The Cameroon Portal
The Republic of Cameroon (French: République du Cameroun) is a unitary republic of central and western Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the Bight of Bonny, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. The country is called "Africa in miniature" for its geological and cultural diversity. Natural features include beaches, deserts, mountains, rainforests, and savannas. The highest point is Mount Cameroon in the southwest, and the largest cities are Douala, Yaoundé, and Garoua. Cameroon is home to approximately 250 different ethnic and linguistic groups. The country is well known for its native styles of music, particularly makossa and bikutsi, and for its successful national football team. English and French are the official languages.
Early inhabitants of the territory included the Sao civilisation around Lake Chad and the Baka hunter-gatherers in the southeastern rainforest. Portuguese explorers reached the coast in the 15th century and named the area Rio dos Camarões ("River of Prawns"), the name from which Cameroon derives. Fulani soldiers founded the Adamawa Emirate in the north in the 19th century, and various ethnic groups of the west and northwest established powerful chiefdoms and fondoms. Cameroon became a German colony in 1884.
After World War I, the territory was divided between France and Britain as League of Nations mandates. The Union des Populations du Cameroun political party advocated independence but was outlawed in the 1950s. It waged war on French and Cameroonian forces until 1971. In 1960, French Cameroun became independent as the Republic of Cameroun under President Ahmadou Ahidjo. The southern part of British Cameroons merged with it in 1961 to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The country was renamed the United Republic of Cameroon in 1972 and the Republic of Cameroon in 1984.
Compared to other African countries, Cameroon enjoys relatively high political and social stability. This has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, railways, and large petroleum and timber industries. Nevertheless, large numbers of Cameroonians live in poverty as subsistence farmers. Power lies firmly in the hands of the president, Paul Biya
, and his Cameroon People's Democratic Movement
party, and corruption
is widespread. The Anglophone
community has grown increasingly alienated from the government, and Anglophone politicians have called for greater decentralization and even the secession
of the former British-governed territories.
The South Region (South Province until 2008; French Province du Sud) is located in the southwestern and south-central portion of the Republic of Cameroon. It is bordered to the east by the East Region, to the north by the Centre Region, to the northwest by the Littoral Region, to the west by the Gulf of Guinea (part of the Atlantic Ocean), and to the south by the countries of Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Congo. The South occupies 47,720 square km of territory, making it the fourth largest region in the nation. The major ethnic groups are the various Beti-Pahuin peoples, such as the Ewondo, Fang, and Bulu.
The South Region has a fair amount of industry, its main commerce consisting of logging, timber, mining, and offshore oil drilling. Commercial agriculture is also important in the South, the major cash crops being cocoa and rubber. Cattle rearing and fishing are significant economic components, as well. Much of the population is made up of subsistence farmers. (Read more...)
Did you know ...
- ...that the Sao civilisation is the earliest to have left clear traces of their presence in the territory of modern Cameroon?
- ...that the Bahá'í Faith is one of only a few non-Christian religions recognised by the government of Cameroon?
In the news
Charles Atangana (c. 1880 – 1 September 1943), also known by his birth name, Ntsama, and his German name, Karl, was the paramount chief of the Ewondo and Bane ethnic groups during much of the colonial period in Cameroon. Although from an unremarkable background, Atangana's loyalty and friendship with colonial priests and administrators secured him successively more prominent posts in the colonial government. He proved himself an intelligent and diplomatic administrator and an eager collaborator, and he was eventually named paramount chief of two Beti-Pahuin subgroups, the Ewondo and Bane peoples. His loyalty and acquiescence to the German Empire was unquestioning, and he even accompanied the Germans on their escape from Africa in World War I.
After a brief stay in Europe, Atangana returned to his homeland in Cameroon, which by then was a League of Nations mandate territory under the administration of the French Third Republic. The French doubted his loyalties at first, but Atangana served them with the same ardour he had shown the Germans and regained his post as paramount chief. During the remainder of his life, he oversaw the Westernisation of his subjects and the improvement of his domains despite the erosion of his powers due to French policies and unrest among his people. He never advocated resistance to the European powers, preferring to embrace European civilisation and technology as a means of personal enrichment and in the service of African interests. After his death in 1943, Atangana was largely forgotten. However, since Cameroon's independence in 1960, Cameroonian scholars have rediscovered his story. (Read more...)
Topics in Cameroon