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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 movement toward democratic reform, political power remains firmly in the hands of an ethnic oligarchy.
Geography Cameroon
Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Biafra, between Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria
Geographic coordinates:
6 00 N, 12 00 E
Map references:
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 - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
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 Mount Cameroon) 4,095 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, bauxite, iron ore, timber, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 12.81%
permanent crops: 2.58%
other: 84.61% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
330 sq km (1998 est.)
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
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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
People Cameroon
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 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 42% (male 3,416,086; female 3,334,904)
15-64 years: 54.8% (male 4,425,246; female 4,370,329)
65 years and over: 3.2% (male 233,506; female 283,607) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 18.5 years
male: 18.3 years
female: 18.6 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.97% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
35.08 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
15.34 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 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: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 69.18 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 65.09 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 73.16 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 47.95 years
male: 47.1 years
female: 48.83 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
4.55 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
11.8% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
920,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
53,000 (2001 est.)
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.)
Government Cameroon
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Cameroon
conventional 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; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
20 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Paul BIYA (since 6 November 1982)
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; election last held 12 October 1997 (next to be held NA October 2004); prime minister appointed by the president
head of government: Prime Minister Peter Mafany MUSONGE (since 19 September 1996)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president from proposals submitted by the prime minister
election results: President Paul BIYA reelected; percent of vote - Paul BIYA 92.6%; note - supporters of the opposition candidates boycotted the elections, making a comparison of vote shares relatively meaningless
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 NA 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 9 judges and 6 substitute judges, elected by the National Assembly)
Political parties and leaders:
Cameroonian Democratic Union or UDC [Adamou NDAM NJOYA]; Democratic Rally of the Cameroon People or RDCP [Paul BIYA]; Movement for the Defense of the Republic or MDR [Dakole DAISSALA]; Movement for the Liberation and Development of Cameroon or MLDC [leader Marcel YONDO]; Movement for the Youth of Cameroon or MYC [Dieudonne TINA]; National Union for Democracy and Progress or UNDP [Maigari BELLO BOUBA]; Social Democratic Front or SDF [John FRU NDI]; Union of Cameroonian Populations or UPC [Augustin Frederic KODOCK]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Southern Cameroon National Council [Ayamba Ette OTUN]; Human Rights Defense Group [Albert MUKONG, president]
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jerome MENDOUGA
chancery: 2349 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
FAX: [1] (202) 387-3826
telephone: [1] (202) 265-8790
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador George McDade STAPLES
embassy: Rue Nachtigal, Yaounde
mailing address: P. O. Box 817, Yaounde; pouch: American Embassy, Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-2520
telephone: [237] 223-05-12, 222-25-89, 222-17-94, 223-40-14
FAX: [237] 223-07-53
branch office(s): Douala
Flag description:
three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), red, and yellow with a yellow five-pointed star centered in the red band; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia
Economy Cameroon
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.
purchasing power parity - $27.59 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3.6% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,800 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 46%
industry: 21%
services: 33% (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:
47.7 (1996)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
4.5% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
NA (2000)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 70%, industry and commerce 13%, other 17%
Unemployment rate:
30% (2001 est.)
revenues: $2.2 billion
expenditures: $2.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY00/01 est.)
petroleum production and refining, food processing, light consumer goods, textiles, lumber
Industrial production growth rate:
4.2% (1999 est.)
Electricity - production:
3.613 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 2.7%
hydro: 97.3%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
3.36 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
76,650 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
22,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Oil - imports:
Oil - proved reserves:
200 million bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
55.22 billion cu m (1 January 2002)
Agriculture - products:
coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, root starches; livestock; timber
$1.873 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
crude oil and petroleum products, lumber, cocoa beans, aluminum, coffee, cotton
Exports - partners:
Italy 17.4%, Spain 16.8%, France 13.4%, US 8.7%, Netherlands 8.6%, China 5.4%, UK 4.7%, Germany 4.1% (2002)
$1.959 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery, electrical equipment, transport equipment, fuel, food
Imports - partners:
France 28%, Nigeria 12.7%, US 7.9%, Belgium 5.7%, Germany 4.8%, Italy 4.3% (2002)
Debt - external:
$8.6 billion (2002 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
on 23 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
Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF); note - responsible authority is the Bank of the Central African States
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XAF) per US dollar - 581.2 (2003), 696.99 (2002), 733.04 (2001), 711.98 (2000), 615.7 (1999)
Fiscal year:
1 July - 30 June
Communications Cameroon
Telephones - main lines in use:
110,900 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
675,700 (2002)
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)
2.27 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (2002)
450,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
439 (2002)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2002)
Internet users:
60,000 (2002)
note: Cameroon also had more than 100 cyber-cafes in 2001
Transportation Cameroon
total: 1,008 km
narrow gauge: 1,008 km 1.000-m gauge (2003)
total: 34,300 km
paved: 4,288 km
unpaved: 30,012 km (1999 est.)
2,090 km (of decreasing importance) (2002)
gas 90 km; liquid petroleum gas 9 km; oil 1,124 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Bonaberi, Douala, Garoua, Kribi, Tiko
Merchant marine:
total: 1 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 169,593 GRT/357,023 DWT
by type: petroleum tanker 1 (2003 est.)
47 (2003 est.)
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 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 36
1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 20
under 914 m: 9 (2003 est.)
Military Cameroon
Military branches:
Army, Navy (includes Naval Infantry), Air Force
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 3,898,944 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 1,979,151 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 184,054 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$189.2 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.4% (2003)
Transnational Issues Cameroon
Disputes - international:
ICJ ruled in 2002 on the entire Cameroon-Nigeria land and maritime boundary but the parties formed a Joint Border Commission to resolve differences bilaterally and have commenced with demarcation in less-contested sections of the boundary, starting in Lake Chad in the north; the ICF ruled on an equidistance settlement of Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea-Nigeria maritime boundary in the Gulf of Guinea, however, implementation of the decision is delayed due to imprecisely defined coordinates, the unresolved Bakasi 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; Lake Chad Commission continues to urge signatories Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria to ratify delimitation treaty over the lake region, which remains the site of armed clashes among local populations and militias