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CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal Cameroon
Flag of Cameroon
Map of Cameroon
Introduction Cameroon
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:
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
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, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: Nuclear Test Ban
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 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 42.1% (male 3,443,505; female 3,367,571)
15-64 years: 54.5% (male 4,431,524; female 4,392,155)
65 years and over: 3.4% (male 253,242; female 296,751) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.36% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
35.66 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
12.08 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
NA migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 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: 0.85 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
68.79 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 54.36 years
female: 55.23 years (2002 est.)
male: 53.51 years
Total fertility rate:
4.72 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
7.73% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
540,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
52,000 (1999 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: 63.4%
male: 75%
female: 52.1% (1995 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 nine 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, chairman]; 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 [Frederick Ebong ALOBWEDE]; Human Rights Defense Group [Albert MUKONG, president]
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Raymond EPOTE
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 and privatization. International oil and cocoa prices have considerable impact on the economy.
purchasing power parity - $26.4 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.9% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,700 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 44%
industry: 20%
services: 36% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
48% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2% (2000 est.)
Labor force:
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:
3.623 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 3%
hydro: 97%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
3.369 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, root starches; livestock; timber
$2.1 billion f.o.b. (2000 est.)
Exports - commodities:
crude oil and petroleum products, lumber, cocoa beans, aluminum, coffee, cotton
Exports - partners:
Italy 24%, France 18%, Netherlands 10% (2000 est.)
$1.5 billion f.o.b. (2000 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery, electrical equipment, transport equipment, fuel, food
Imports - partners:
France 29%, Germany 7%, US 6%, Japan 6% (2000 est.)
Debt - external:
$10.9 billion (2000 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
on 23 January 2001, the Paris Club agreed to reduce Cameroon's debt of $1.3 billion by $900 million; total debt relief now amounts to $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 - 742.79 (January 2002), 733.04 (2001), 711.98 (2000), 615.70 (1999), 589.95 (1998), 583.67 (1997); note - from 1 January 1999, the XAF is pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 XAF per euro
Fiscal year:
1 July - 30 June
Communications Cameroon
Telephones - main lines in use:
95,000 (2001)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
300,000 (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: available only to business and government
domestic: cable, microwave radio relay, and tropospheric scatter
international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
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 Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2002)
Internet users:
note: Cameroon also had more than 100 cyber-cafes in 2001 (December 2001)
Transportation Cameroon
1,008 km
narrow gauge: 1,008 km 1.000-m gauge (2002)
total: 34,300 km
paved: 4,288 km
unpaved: 30,012 km (2000)
2,090 km (of decreasing importance) (2002)
Ports and harbors:
Bonaberi, Douala, Garoua, Kribi, Tiko
49 (2001)
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 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 38
1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 20
under 914 m: 11 (2002)
Military Cameroon
Military branches:
Army, Navy (includes naval infantry), Air Force, National Gendarmerie, Presidential Guard
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 3,872,965 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 1,959,357 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 174,308 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$118.6 million (FY00/01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.4% (FY98/99)
Transnational Issues Cameroon
Disputes - international:
oral arguments on the land and maritime boundary disputes between Cameroon and Nigeria were presented to the ICJ; disputes center around Bakasi Peninsula, where armed clashes continue, Bouram Island on Lake Chad, and the maritime boundary and economic zone dispute in the Gulf of Guinea, which also involves Equatorial Guinea; Lake Chad Basin Commission urges signatories Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria to ratify delimitation treaty over lake region, the site of continuing armed clashes

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003