Cameroon is located on the West coast of Africa, surrounded by Nigeria, Gabon, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo and Equatorial Guinea. It has a 400km coastline to the Atlantic Ocean.
The climate ranges from tropical rainforest to open savanna, with high mountain ranges on the North West border with Nigeria. Mount Cameroon located at Buea near the port of Limbe rises to 4,100 meters and is an active volcano. From the main commercial port city of Douala, the land rises to 700 metres at Yaounde, the national capital. The mountain range bordering Nigeria climbs to over 2,000 metres. Throughout Cameroon there are areas of thermal springs, and indications of current or prior volcanic activity.
The population is about 20,000,000, comprised of over 240 tribal groups. No tribe or religion has dominance, and the country has been typically peaceful throughout its history.
Land area is 475,440 square kilometres, or 183,638 square miles.
The country owes its name Cameroes (prawns, shrimps, crayfish) which the Portuguese found on the Wourri estuary in 1472 and named it ‘Rio Dos Cameroes’ or ‘River of prawns’.
From 1884 to 1916 Cameroon was a German Protectorate. From 1916 to 1945 it was administered by Britain and France as Mandates of the League of Nations, then as trust-territories of the United Nations from 1945 to 1960/61. The French part gained independence from being a French trust-territory of the United Nations in 1960 and the English part in 1961 to become a Federal Republic of Cameroon.
In 1984 the name was officially changed to The Republic of Cameroon. In 1992, the first multiparty elections were held.
The system of government is the French model, with a powerful office of President (elected for seven year terms), a Prime Minister and Ministers appointed by the President, and the Chamber of Deputies elected by popular vote every four years
His excellency, Paul Biya is the Head of State.
Cameroon became a full member of the Commonwealth of Nations in 1995, and now actively participates in that organisation. Membership became possible due to part of the republic being the former British Cameroon, or South Nigeria.
The official languages are French and English, although French is dominant. English is most strongly represented in the former British Cameroon region. Bilingual schools are common throughout the country, and increasing numbers of people realise the importance of learning English in the new global economy.
The currency is the CFA Franc. The CFA is linked to the Euro through a guarantee by France that parity to the old French Franc will be maintained. The currency thus fluctuates against the world currencies in line with the Euro.
Main cities are; Douala, the principal seaport and commercial capital, with a population of over 2,500,000; Yaounde, the capital with 1.2 million, and other major cities or provincial capitals at Garoua, Maroua, Ngounderie, Bamenda, Bafoussam, Foumban, and Kumba. A large proportion of the population (47%) lives in non urban areas. The Camerounians are very good farmers, and produce a surplus of diverse crops.
Major crops for export and local use include:
rubber, palm oil, cotton, cacao, coffee, tea, bananas, pineapples, haricot beans, sugar, potatoes of various varieties, and a variety of fruit and vegetables.
Ports other than Douala are Kribi, a developing port, and holiday resort. This is also the shipping port for the new Chad to Cameroon oil pipeline, currently being built at a cost of four billion dollars; and Limbe, the export point for locally produced oil, and the location of the country’s oil refinery, which has a production level of 100,000 barrels per day. Unrefined oil is the country’s prime export.
Resources: The country has an extraordinary range of resources, both mineral, and forestry, most of which have yet to be exploited, although timber production is a major industry. Apart from oil, the only two other mineral based enterprises in operation are; A large cement plant at Douala, and a 39 year old aluminum smelter at Edea, between Douala, and Yaounde. Despite known bauxite deposits in the billions of tonnes, most of the supplies for the smelter are shipped in from Guinea.
Government schools in Cameroon are structured on the Western curriculum, with primary and secondary schools. Whilst French is the dominant language, parents can now specify that their children attend an English speaking school.
These is also a wide range of church schools and colleges throughout the country.
Cameroon has eight State universities and a number of Private Universities located at:
- Yaounde 1 and 2
Electricity: Over 90% of Cameroon’s power is generated by hydroelectric plants and there are other identified power station sites for future development
National Day: Cameroon’s National Day is on the 20th of May each year.
International (ISD) Dial Code: +237
Area Codes: DOUALA (3), YAOUNDE (2)
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