Flag of Cameroon

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The 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.


Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Biafra, between Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria

Geographic coordinates:

6 00 N, 12 00 E


total: 475,440 sq km
land: 469,440 sq km
water: 6,000 sq km

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 4,095 m (on Mt. Cameroon)

Natural resources:

petroleum, bauxite, iron ore, timber, hydropower

Land use:

arable land: 12.54%
permanent crops: 2.52%
other: 84.94% (2005)

Irrigated land:

260 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

volcanic activity with periodic releases of poisonous gases from Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun volcanoes

Environment - current issues:

waterborne 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


note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2006 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) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 18.9 years
male: 18.7 years
female: 19 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.04% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

33.89 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

13.47 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 63.52 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 67.38 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 59.53 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 51.16 years
male: 50.98 years
female: 51.34 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

4.39 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

6.9% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

560,000 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

49,000 (2003 est.)

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever are high risks in some locations
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis (2005)


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% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Cameroon
conventional short form: Cameroon
local long form: Republique du Cameroon
local short form: 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; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


20 years of age; universal

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
elections: last held 23 June 2002 (next to be held in 2007)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - RDCP 133, SDF 21, UDC 5, other 21
note: the constitution calls for an upper chamber for the legislature, to be called a Senate, but it has yet to be established

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)

Economy - overview:

Because of its 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. International oil and cocoa prices have considerable impact on the economy.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$31.77 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$15.33 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

3.7% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$1,900 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 44.8%
industry: 17.3%
services: 37.9% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

6.86 million (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 70%
industry: 13%
services: 17%

Unemployment rate:

30% (2001 est.)

Population below poverty line:

48% (2000 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 1.9%
highest 10%: 36.6% (1996)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

44.6 (2001)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

1.5% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

17.3% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $3.263 billion
expenditures: $2.705 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2005 est.)

Public debt:

64.8% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, root starches; livestock; timber


petroleum production and refining, aluminum production, food processing, light consumer goods, textiles, lumber, ship repair

Industrial production growth rate:

4.2% (1999 est.)

Electricity - production:

2.988 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

2.779 billion kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

82,300 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - consumption:

23,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:

85 million bbl (2005 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

110.4 billion cu m (2005)

Current account balance:

$159 million (2005 est.)


$3.236 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

crude oil and petroleum products, lumber, cocoa beans, aluminum, coffee, cotton

Exports - partners:

Spain 15.1%, Italy 12.3%, UK 10.2%, France 9.1%, US 8.8%, South Korea 7.1%, Netherlands 4.3% (2004)


$2.514 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery, electrical equipment, transport equipment, fuel, food

Imports - partners:

France 28%, Nigeria 9.9%, Belgium 7.6%, US 4.8%, China 4.8%, Germany 4.6%, Italy 4% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$1.092 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$9.223 billion (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

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

Currency (code):

Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF); note - responsible authority is the Bank of the Central African States

Fiscal year:

1 July - 30 June

Telephones - main lines in use:

110,900 (2002)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

1,536,600 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: available only to business and government
domestic: cable, microwave radio relay, and tropospheric scatter
international: country code - 237; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); fiber optic submarine cable (SAT-3/WASC) provides connectivity to Europe and Asia

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 2, FM 9, shortwave 3 (2002)

Television broadcast stations:

1 (2002)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

34 (2005)

Internet users:

167,000 (2005)


47 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 11
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 36
1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 20
under 914 m: 9 (2005)


gas 90 km; liquid petroleum gas 9 km; oil 1,120 km (2004)


total: 1,008 km
narrow gauge: 1,008 km 1.000-m gauge (2004)


total: 80,932 km
paved: 5,398 km
unpaved: 75,534 km (2002)


navigation mainly on Benue River; limited during rainy season (2005)

Merchant marine:

total: 1 ships (1000 GRT or over) 38,613 GRT/68,820 DWT
by type: petroleum tanker 1
foreign-owned: 1 (France 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Douala, Limboh Terminal

Military branches:

Cameroon Armed Forces: Army, Navy (includes Naval Infantry), Air Force (Armee de l'Air du Cameroun, AAC) (2006)

Disputes - international:

ICJ ruled in 2002 on the entire Cameroon-Nigeria land and maritime boundary but the parties formed a Joint Border Commission, which continues to meet regularly to resolve differences bilaterally and have commenced with demarcation in less-contested sections of the boundary, starting in Lake Chad in the north; implementation of the ICJ ruling on the Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea-Nigeria maritime boundary in the Gulf of Guinea is impeded by imprecisely defined coordinates, the unresolved Bakassi allocation, and a sovereignty dispute between Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon over an island at the mouth of the Ntem River; Nigeria initially rejected cession of the Bakasi Peninsula, then agreed, but has yet to withdraw its forces while much of the indigenous population opposes cession; only Nigeria and Cameroon have heeded the Lake Chad Commission's admonition to ratify the delimitation treaty which also includes the Chad-Niger and Niger-Nigeria boundaries

Refugees and internally displaced persons:

refugees (country of origin): 39,290 (Chad) 16,686 (Nigeria) 9,634 (Cote d'Ivoire) (2005)