Cameroon: Africa in miniature




Anthem Ô Cameroun, Berceau de nos Ancêtres (French)
Capital Yaoundé
Largest city Douala
Official language(s) French, English
Government Republic
Area 475,442 km2, 183,568 sq mi
Population ~ 19 million
Currency Central African CFA franc (XAF)
Internet TLD .cm


Cameroon is a country of central and western Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west, Chad to the northeast, the Central African Republic to the east and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the Bight of Bonny, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean.
Yaoundé is the capital of Cameroon and second largest city in the country after Douala. It lies in the centre of the nation. The population of Yaoundé city is about 1,430,000. The largest city of Cameroon, Douala, has an estimated population of 3,000,000. The third largest city of Cameroon is Garoua with 490,000 inhabitants. The city is an important river port.

Society and culture

The country is well known for its native styles of music, particularly makossa and bikutsi, and for its successful national football team. Each of Cameroon's ethnic groups has its own unique cultural forms. Typical celebrations include births, deaths, plantings, harvests, and religious rituals.


In 2009, Cameroon's estimated population was 19,522,000. The population is young: an estimated 40.9% are under 15, and 96.7% are under 65. Population density is highest in the large urban centres, the western highlands, and the northeastern plain. There are more than 230 different ethnic and linguistic groups in Cameroon, for example Sudanese, Fulani, Shuwa Arabs, Pygmies and Nigerians.


Both English and French are official languages due to the introduction of these languages during colonialism. A fifth of Cameroon's population in the Northwest and Southwest regions speak English. The rest of the population speaks French. Cameroonian Pidgin English is the most common lingua franca, especially in the formerly British-administered territories. A mixture of English, French, and Pidgin called Camfranglais has been gaining popularity in urban centres.


Cameroon has a high level of religious freedom and diversity. Christians are concentrated in the southern and western regions, and Muslims reside in large numbers in every region but are concentrated in the north. Large cities have significant populations of both groups. People widely believe in witchcraft.

Government and politics

Cameroon is a unitary republic. The President of Cameroon has broad, unilateral powers to create policy, administer government agencies, command the armed forces and much more. The current president is Paul Biya. Cameroon's legal system is largely based on French civil law with common law influences. Main political parties are the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement and the Social Democratic Front.


Cameroon's per-capita GDP was estimated at US $2,300 in 2008. Major export markets include France, Italy, South Korea, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Unemployment was estimated at 30% in 2001, and about a third of the population was living below the international poverty threshold of US$1.25 a day in 2009. Since the late 1980s, Cameroon has been following programmes to reduce poverty, privatise industries, and increase economic growth. Tourism is a growing sector, particularly in the coastal area of the country. Cameroon's natural resources are very well suited to agriculture. Bananas, cocoa, oil palms, rubber, and tea are mostly cultivated.

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