Facts about Cameroon

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CameroonThe former French Cameroon and part of British Cameroon merged in 1961 to form the present country. Cameroon has generally enjoyed stability, which has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, and railways, as well as a petroleum industry. Despite a slow movement toward democratic reform, political power remains firmly in the hands of an ethnic oligarchy headed by President Paul BIYA.

Geography of Cameroon

Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Biafra, between Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria
6 00 N, 12 00 E
total: 475,440 sq km
water: 6,000 sq km
land: 469,440 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly larger than California
Land boundaries:
total: 4,591 km
border countries: Central African Republic 797 km, Chad 1,094 km, Republic of the Congo 523 km, Equatorial Guinea 189 km, Gabon 298 km, Nigeria 1,690 km
402 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 50 NM
varies with terrain, from tropical along coast to semiarid and hot in north
diverse, with coastal plain in southwest, dissected plateau in center, mountains in west, plains in north
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Fako (on Cameroon Mountain) 4,095 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, bauxite, iron ore, timber, hydropower
Natural hazards:
volcanic activity with periodic releases of poisonous gases from Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun volcanoes
Environment - current issues:
water-borne diseases are prevalent; deforestation; overgrazing; desertification; poaching; overfishing
Geography - note:
sometimes referred to as the hinge of Africa; throughout the country there are areas of thermal springs and indications of current or prior volcanic activity; Mount Cameroon, the highest mountain in Sub-Saharan west Africa, is an active volcano

Population of Cameroon

18,467,692 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 41.2% (male 3,614,430/female 3,531,047)
15-64 years: 55.5% (male 4,835,453/female 4,796,276)
65 years and over: 3.2% (male 260,342/female 303,154)
Median age:
18.9 years
Infant mortality:
63.52 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 51.16 years
male: 50.98 years
female: 51.34 years
Total fertility rate:
4.39 children born/woman
noun: Cameroonian(s)
adjective: Cameroonian
Ethnic groups:
Cameroon Highlanders 31%, Equatorial Bantu 19%, Kirdi 11%, Fulani 10%, Northwestern Bantu 8%, Eastern Nigritic 7%, other African 13%, non-African less than 1%
indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim 20%
24 major African language groups, English (official), French (official)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79%
male: 84.7%
female: 73.4% 


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Cameroon
former: French Cameroon
Government type:
unitary republic; multiparty presidential regime (opposition parties legalized in 1990)
note: preponderance of power remains with the president
Administrative divisions:
10 provinces; Adamaoua, Centre, Est, Extreme-Nord, Littoral, Nord, Nord-Ouest, Ouest, Sud, Sud-Ouest
1 January 1960 (from French-administered UN trusteeship)
National holiday:
Republic Day (National Day), 20 May (1972)
20 May 1972 approved by referendum; 2 June 1972 formally adopted; revised January 1996
Legal system:
based on French civil law system, with common law influence; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
20 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Paul BIYA (since 6 November 1982)
head of government: Prime Minister Ephraim INONI (since 8 December 2004)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president from proposals submitted by the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 11 October 2004 (next to be held by October 2011); prime minister appointed by the president
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (180 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms); note - the president can either lengthen or shorten the term of the legislature
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president); High Court of Justice (consists of nine judges and six substitute judges, elected by the National Assembly).


Because of its modest oil resources and favorable agricultural conditions, Cameroon has one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Still, it faces many of the serious problems facing other underdeveloped countries, such as a top-heavy civil service and a generally unfavorable climate for business enterprise. Since 1990, the government has embarked on various IMF and World Bank programs designed to spur business investment, increase efficiency in agriculture, improve trade, and recapitalize the nation's banks. In June 2000, the government completed an IMF-sponsored, three-year structural adjustment program; however, the IMF is pressing for more reforms, including increased budget transparency, privatization, and poverty reduction programs. In January 2001, the Paris Club agreed to reduce Cameroon's debt of $1.3 billion by $900 million; debt relief now totals $1.26 billion. International oil and cocoa prices have a significant impact on the economy.

$40.24 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 44.8%
industry: 17%
services: 38.2%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
6.86 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 70%
industry: 13%
services: 17%
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 2.7%
hydro: 97.3%
other: 0% 
petroleum production and refining, food processing, light consumer goods, textiles, lumber
coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, root starches; livestock; timber
crude oil and petroleum products, lumber, cocoa beans, aluminum, coffee, cotton
Export partners:
Spain 16.7%, Italy 13.2%, France 9.2%, UK 8.8%, South Korea 7.8%, Netherlands 6.5%, Belgium 4.5%, US 4.1%
machinery, electrical equipment, transport equipment, fuel, food
Import partners:
France 24.5%, Nigeria 11.3%, Belgium 6.6%, China 5.8%, US 5.2%, Thailand 4.6%, Germany 4.4%
Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF); note - responsible authority is the Bank of the Central African States

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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