Cameroon Information

General Information for Cameroon

Country: Cameroon
Location: Central Africa
Independence: January 1, 1960
Nationality: Cameroonian
Capital City: Yaounde
Population: 13,521,000
Important Cities: Douala, Garoua, N'gaoudere, Maroua
Head of State: Paul Biya
Area: 475,400
Type of Government: Republic
Currency: 500 FCFA=1 USD
Major peoples: Kirdi,Fulani,Ewondo,Duala,Bamileke,Bassa,Beti,Fang,Gbaya,Banso,Tikar
Religion: African religion 51%, Christian 33%, Muslim 16%
Climate: Tropical to semiarid
Literacy: 54%
Official Language: French, English
Principal Languages: Fulfulde, Ewondo, Bamileke, Bassa, Pidgin English
Major Exports: Timber, Oil, Rubber, Coffee, Cocoa
Pre-Colonial History The earliest inhabitants probably were hunters and gatherers, who still inhabit the southern forests. Bantu speakers were among the first groups moved into Cameroon from equatorial Africa, settling in the south and later in the west. The Muslim Fulani from the Niger basin arrived in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries and settled in the north. Contact with Europeans began in the 1500s. During the next three centuries, Spanish, Dutch, and British traders visited the area, and there was coastal slave trading. Christian missions appeared in the mid-1800s and still are active. In July 1884, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France each attempted to annex the area. In the treaty with local chiefs, the German Consul of Tunis, Tunisia, extended a protectorate over Cameroon. Germany strengthened its claim and expanded its territory by treaties with the United Kingdom and France, but British and French armies invaded the German colony in 1914. A 1919 declaration divided Cameroon between the United Kingdom and France with the larger, eastern area under France. A 1922 League of Nations mandate sanctioned the division; in 1946, the United Nations converted the mandates to trusteeships. In December 1958, the French trusteeship was ended.
Post-Colonial History French Cameroon became the Republic of Cameroon on January 1, 1960. In February 1961, a plebiscite under United Nations auspices in British (west) Cameroon determined whether people wished union with Nigeria or with the new Republic of Cameroon. On October 1, 1961, the southern part joined French Cameroon, and the new Federal Republic of Cameroon was created. From 1961 until spring 1972, Cameroon was governed as a federation, with east (formerly French) Cameroon and west (formerly British) Cameroon having individual governments-each with a parliament and ministries-in addition to the federal government structure. In 1972, President Ahidjo proposed abolition of the federal structure. A May 20, 1972, referendum gave widespread endorsement to the proposal, and a decree in June proclaimed the United Republic of Cameroon retroactive to May 20. On January 25, 1984, a constitutional amendment made its official name the Republic of Cameroon.

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