|Elevation||1,212 m (3,976 ft)|
Ngaoundéré or N'Gaoundéré is the capital of the Adamawa Region of Cameroon. It had a population of 152,700 (at the 2005 Census). It lies at the northern end of the railway to Yaoundé and is also home to an airport. The current city was founded in approximately 1835 by the Fulani leader Ardo Njobdi, although the site had previously been an Mbum capital as well. Attractions in the city include the Lamido Palace and the Lamido Grand Mosque. The name Ngaoundéré is a composite word in the Mbum language meaning Navel-Mountain, where "Ngaou" means mountain and "ndéré" means navel. The town is named after a nearby mountain on the Ngaoundere Plateau.
The Mbum are the indigenous population of Ngaoundéré and the immediate area. The Fulani invaded the area in the early 19th century. The Fulani have ruled the area since the foundation of Ngaoundere in approximately 1835 in conjunction with the Mbum, who are considered a protected people according to Islamic law. The ruler is required to be descended from the ruling Fulani family on his father's side, extending back to the first Lamido of Ngaoundéré Ardo Njobdi of Boundang. On his mother's side, he is expected to be an Mbum descendent, so that he may represent the entirety of the population. Being the largest city in Adamaoua by far, Ngaoundéré attracts numerous settlers from the surrounding rural areas, including Díi from further north, Gbaya from the Meiganga area, and Pere from the west. The population expanded precipitously after completion of the railway in 1973 with a large percentage of that population originating from outside of Adamaoua Region. This is evident in the ironic dichotomy between the so-called Grand Marché, adjacent to the Grand Mosqué and housing mainly local merchants, and the much larger Petit Marché located to the northwest in a neighborhood housing a population largely originating in the southern regions of Cameroon.
The city serves as an important communications hub, linking the south of Cameroon with the northern part of the country. There is a paved road of good standard, albeit with some potholes, extending from Ngaoundéré to Garoua and Maroua, and Chad. The railway from Yaoundé ends here, and the railway station is always sprawling with life. The main goods are bananas, fruits and general goods from the south. The north sends cotton stemming from Nord and Chad and cattle from Adamaoua towards the south.
The airport has a 1.6 km strip, capable of accepting Boeing 737 and similar aircraft. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the airport had several flights a week to both Yaoundé and Douala in the south, Garoua in the north, and N'Djamena, Chad. Because of economic decline and the decline of the national carrier, Cameroon Airlines, the airport currently sees very little traffic, if any. The airports ICAO code is FKKN while the IATA code is NGE.
Ngaoundéré is linked to the Cameroonian microwave network, but the system is not very reliable. However, a lot of private companies have two-way satellite communications, and there are many cybercafé's in the city.
The city has a mixture of numerous religions. There are approx 60% Muslims, most are rather pragmatic with regards to religious observancy. There are further 30% Christians of various denominations, including Lutheran Protestant, Catholic, Baptist and Anglican. There has traditionally been few problems between the various religions, but a radicalization of Islam does seem to have taken place the last 10 years or so. Married women in the area have traditionally worn a cloth over their hair (irrespective of religion), but garments like Hijab were previously almost unknown. Some Muslim women now choose to wear the hijab, but other Muslim dresses like the burqa are unknown.
The Norwegian Missionary Society first established a mission here in the early 1920s. The church built in 1923 still stands. At the time of construction, there were 3 Christians in the city, but being optimistic, the church was built for a capacity of roughly 200. In cooperation with the local Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cameroon EELC and the American ELCA the NMS has built the Protestant Hospital of Ngaoundéré, a high school and several other institutions.
Ngaoundéré once held one of the largest Norwegian contingencies any place in the world, with over 100 Norwegians living there in the 1980s. The neighbourhood was even dubbed "Norvège" ("Norway" in French).
The Catholic Church also has representatives and a large congregation in the area.
- Population = approx 200,000 (2005 est.)
- African Business December 2009, p62
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