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Cameroon (kămˌəro͞onˈ), Fr. Cameroun, officially Republic of Cameroon, republic (2020 est. pop. 26,545,863), 183,568 sq mi (475,442 sq km), W central Africa. It is bordered on the southwest by the Gulf of Guinea, on the northwest by Nigeria, on the northeast by Chad, on the southeast by the Central African Republic, and on the south by Congo (Brazzaville), Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea. Yaoundé is the capital, and Douala is the largest city and main port.

Land and People

Cameroon is triangular in shape. A coastal strip 10 to 50 mi (16–80 km) wide in the southwest is covered with swamps and dense tropical rain forests; it has one of the wettest climates in the world, with an average annual rainfall of 152 in. (386 cm) on the coast. Near the coast are volcanic peaks, dominated by Mt. Cameroon (13,354 ft/4,070 m), the highest point in the country. Beyond the coastal marshes and plains, the land rises to a densely forested plateau c.1,000 ft (300 m) above sea level. The interior of the country is a plateau c.2,500 to 4,000 ft (760–1,220 m) high, where forests give way to savanna. This plateau forms a barrier between the agricultural south and the pastoral north. The extreme northern regions, near Lake Chad, are dry thornbush lands. Among the many rivers that drain Cameroon are the Bénoué, the Wuori, the Sanaga, and the Nyong.

The country consists of the former French Cameroons and the southern portion of the former British Cameroons. The French, or eastern, section constitutes four fifths of the country and supports a roughly similar portion of the population. With more than 200 ethnic groups, Cameroon has one of the most diverse populations in Africa. Bantu-speaking peoples, such as the Douala, predominate along the southern coast and in the forested areas. In the highlands are the Bamiléké. Important northern groups include the Fulani and the Kirdi. French and English are the official languages, but there are also 24 major African language groups in the country. About 40% of the people follow traditional beliefs, while another 40% are Christian and about 20% are Muslim; Islam is the dominant religion of the northern regions.


Offshore oil deposits exploited since the early 1970s have made Cameroon one of the most prosperous nations in tropical Africa. Oil refining and the production of crude oil products lead the nation's industries. Before the advent of the petroleum business, agriculture was the country's economic mainstay, and it still contributes about 45% of the country's gross domestic product and employs about 70% of the people. The north, where cattle raising is the chief occupation, is the least economically developed part of Cameroon, whose regional disparities pose a major problem for the government.

Cameroon is one of the world's leading cocoa producers; coffee, rubber, bananas, palm products, and tobacco, all grown mainly on plantations, are also commercially important. The principal subsistence crops are bananas, cassava, yams, plantains, peanuts, millet, and sorghum.In spite of this diverse agricultural production, only a small percentage of the country's land is cultivated, but food production in Cameroon meets domestic demand despite the occurrence of periodic droughts.

Fishing and forestry follow oil and agriculture as leading occupations. Cameroon's mineral resources include bauxite and iron ore. The Edéa Dam on the Sanaga River provides the bulk of the country's electricity and powers a large aluminum smelter; finished aluminum is exported. Food processing, sawmilling, and the manufacture of light consumer goods and textiles are important industries.

Cameroon's exports include crude oil and petroleum products, lumber, cocoa beans, aluminum, coffee, and cotton. France, Spain, Italy, and Nigeria are the major trading partners. The country is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.


Cameroon is governed under the constitution of 1972 as amended. The president, who is head of state, is popularly elected for a seven-year term; there are no term limits. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is appointed by the president. The bicameral legislature consists of the 180-seat National Assembly and 100-seat Senate; members of both serve five-year terms. The Assembly is elected by popular vote. Seven senators are elected from each region by the region's municipal councilors, and the rest are appointed by the president. Administratively, the country is divided into 10 regions.


Early History to Independence

Throughout history the region witnessed numerous invasions and migrations by various ethnic groups, especially by the Fulani, Hausa, Fang, and Kanuri. Contact with Europeans began in 1472, when the Portuguese reached the Wuori River estuary, and a large-scale slave trade ensued, carried on by the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French, and English. In the 19th cent., palm oil and ivory became the main items of commerce. The British established commercial hegemony over the coast in the early 19th cent., and British trading and missionary outposts appeared in the 1850s; but the English were supplanted by the Germans, who in 1884 signed a treaty with the Douala people along the Wuori estuary and proclaimed the area a protectorate.

The Germans began constructing the port of Douala and then advanced into the interior, where they developed plantations and built roads and bridges. An additional area was acquired from France in 1911 as compensation for the surrender of German rights in Morocco. Two years later, German control over the Muslim north was consolidated. French and British troops occupied the region during World War I.

After the war the area ceded in 1911 was rejoined to French Equatorial Africa, and in 1919 the remainder of Cameroon was divided into French and British zones, which became League of Nations mandates. Little social or political progress was made in either area, and French labor practices were severely criticized. Both mandates, however, remained loyal to the Allies in World War II. In 1946 they became UN trust territories. In the 1950s, guerrilla warfare raged in the French Cameroons, instigated by the nationalist Union of the Peoples of the Cameroons, which demanded immediate independence and union with the British Cameroons. France granted self-government to the French Cameroons in 1957 and internal autonomy in 1959.

Independence to the Present

On Jan. 1, 1960, the French Cameroons became independent, with Ahmadou Ahidjo as its first president. The British-administered territory was divided into two zones, both administratively linked with Nigeria. In a UN-sponsored plebiscite in early 1961, the northern zone voted for union with Nigeria, and the southern for incorporation into Cameroon, which was subsequently reconstituted as a federal republic with two prime ministers and legislatures but a single president. Ahidjo became president of the republic.

National integration proceeded gradually. In 1966 the dominant political parties in the east and west merged into the Cameroon National Union (CNU). In 1972 the population voted to adopt a new constitution setting up a unitary state to replace the federation. A presidential form of government was retained, but Cameroon was a one-party state, with the CNU in control. Ahidjo resigned from the presidency in 1982 and named Paul Biya as his successor.

Biya established an authoritarian rule and implemented conservative fiscal policies. Opposition to his regime endured after a failed coup attempt in 1984, and his critics called for more substantive democratic reform. An increase in oil revenues resulted in greater investment in agriculture and education, but the collapse of world oil prices in 1986 prompted a variety of austerity measures. In 1985 the CNU changed its name to the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM). Following a prolonged nationwide strike in 1990, Biya ended one-party rule and initiated a multiparty system. In the nation's first democratic elections, held in 1992, Biya again won the presidency, but the result was tainted by widespread charges of fraud, and violent protests followed.

Various IMF and World Bank programs initiated in the 1990s to spur the economy met with mixed results, and privatization of state industry lagged. Critics accused the government of mismanagement and corruption, and corruption remained a significant problem into the 21st cent. In recent years the English-speaking inhabitants of the former British-ruled regions have sought autonomy or a return to federal government. In the 1990s, tensions increased between Cameroon and Nigeria over competing claims to the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula in the Gulf of Guinea, and clashes occurred in 1994 and 1996. Biya was reelected in 1997; however, his refusal to allow an independent board to organize the vote prompted the country's three main opposition parties to boycott the elections.

In 2002 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) awarded the Bakassi peninsula and certain areas in the Lake Chad region to Cameroon; another area in the latter region was awarded to Nigeria. The areas near Lake Chad were swapped late in 2003, and a new border established. The more politically sensitive Bakassi decision was slow to be implemented, but after a 2006 agreement transfer of the region to Cameroon was initiated in Aug., 2006; Nigerian administration of the peninsula ended in Aug., 2008.

Biya was returned to office in 2004 with 75% of the vote. Many foreign observers called the election democratic, but journalists said the turnout appeared low despite the government claim that it was 79%. Opposition politicians and other Cameroonians accused the government of vote-rigging. Elections in 2007 gave the governing party a landslide majority in the National Assembly, but the government was again accused of electoral fraud.

In Feb., 2008, anger over fuel price increases and over Biya's suggestion that he might seek to change the constitution so that he could be reelected again led to a transport strike and violent demonstrations in Yaoundé, Douala, and some other urban areas. In April, the National Assembly lifted presidential term limits. Biya again won reelection in Oct., 2011, against a divided opposition and, again, amid opposition accusations of fraud. In Apr., 2013, elections for the Senate were held for the first time since the constitution was amended (1996) to establish the upper house; Biya's party secured an overwhelming majority of the seats. The September elections for the National Assembly, which had been scheduled for July, 2012, but were postponed several times, resulted in a similar outcome.

Political instability in neighboring Central African Republic led to border tensions and incursions into Cameroon beginning in the latter part of 2013. There also have been recruitment and attacks in areas of Cameroon bordering NE Nigeria by members of Boko Haram; second half of 2014 saw significant fighting between Cameroon's military and Boko Haram in N Cameroon. In 2015 Cameroon and Benin, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria agreed to form an African Union–authorized regional military force to combat Boko Haram, but its organization and operation have been marred by disagreements. Fighting continued in following years, with the army, which was accused of sometimes wanton violence, gaining the upper hand by 2018.

Tensions in Cameroon's English-speaking regions over the use of French led to demonstrations in Oct., 2016; the two regions also have suffered from decaying infrastructure and government neglect despite being economically important. Ongoing tensions and government suppression led a year later to guerrilla attacks by some separatists. The violence by the security forces and armed English-speaking separatists escalated and worsened in subsequent months. By the end of 2018 more than 400,000 had been displaced by the fighting, with that number increasing in subsequent years, and the commercial agricultural economy of the English-speaking regions was crippled. In the Oct., 2018, presidential election Biya was reelected; the vote was marred by irregularities and by a lack of voters in the English-speaking regions, where separatists had threatened violence.

Subsequently tensions increased between the government and the opposition, and Maurice Kamto, an opposition presidential candidate in 2018 who claimed the election had been stolen, was arrested and charged (Feb., 2019) with rebellion; he was released in October on Biya's orders as part of a national dialogue called to address Cameroon's crisis. In Dec., 2019, a law granting special status but no real autonomy to English-speaking areas was passed; it was far from the restoration of the federal republic desired by most English speakers.

The Feb., 2020, National Assembly elections were marred by low turnout, a partial opposition boycott, and accusations of fraud against the governing party. The constitutional council ordered a rerun of the elections in most of English-speaking areas, finding that there had been fraud and other irregularities; threats of separatist violence had led to extremely low turnout there. Also in 2020, Boko Haram's resurgence in NE Nigeria led to increasing attacks in neighboring areas of Cameroon.


See V. T. LeVine, The Cameroon Federal Republic (1971); N. N. Rubin, Cameroun (1972); A. F. Calvert, The Cameroons (1976); M. W. Delancey, Cameroon (1988) and with H. M. Mokeba, Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cameroon (2d ed. 1991).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(or Cameroun), United Republic of Cameroon (La République Unie du Cameroun).

Cameroon is a state in Central Africa. It is bordered on the northwest by Nigeria, on the north and northeast by Chad, on the east by the Central African Republic, and on the south by the People’s Republic of the Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea; on the west coast is the Bight of Biafra in the Atlantic Ocean. Area, 475, 400 sq km. Population, 5.84 million (1970, estimate). The capital is the city of Yaoundé.

Cameroon was divided in 1972 into administrative provinces (see Table l), which were in turn subdivided into departments, districts, and arrondissements.

Table 1. Administrative and territorial divisions
lsq kml
South Central119,0001,130,000Yaoundé

Cameroon is a republic. The present constitution became effective on June 2, 1972. The head of state and government is the president, who is elected by the population for a term of five years through universal and direct elections. The president appoints and dismisses ministers and their deputies, is the supreme commander in chief of the armed forces, and has the right to proclaim a state of emergency. The supreme legislative body is a unicameral parliament (the National Assembly), composed of 120 deputies elected for a term of five years through universal, direct, and secret voting according to an established principle of representation. The constitution grants the right to vote to all citizens who have reached 21 years of age. The supreme executive body, the government, is not responsible to the parliament. The administration in the departments, districts, and arrondissements is headed by officials who are appointed by the central authority.

Cameroon is located in the equatorial and northern subequatorial zones, within the natural regions of Central Africa and the Sudan. Most of the shoreline of the Bight of Biafra in the north is low, sandy, or swampy, with wide estuaries. Rocky shores without natural harbors predominate south of Kribi.

Terrain. A lowland up to 150 km wide stretches along the coast, which is dominated by isolated, volcanic Mount Cameroun (4, 070 m). An internal plateau rises over the lowland in steep spurs. The plateau in the southern part of Cameroon, with an altitude of 600–900 m, has a rolling landscape. The Adamaoua Plateau in the central part of Cameroon is more uplifted and dissected (average altitude, 1,000–1, 500 m; highest peak— Mount Bambuto, 2, 740 m). The plateau is marked by young lava fields and cones of extinct volcanoes. The broad Benoue River basin separates it from the Mandara Mountains to the North (altitudes of 1,000–1, 100 m or more). The extreme north of the country is occupied by the flat alluvial plains of the Lake Chad basin (altitude, about 300 m).

Geological structure and mineral resources. A large part of Cameroon is an extension of the early Precambrian crystalline foundation of the African Platform, a foundation composed of dislocated gneiss, crystalline shales, and granites; in the southeastern part of Cameroon the foundation has a sloping, Upper Proterozoic sedimentary cover, which forms the northwestern border of the Congo Valley. At the beginning of the Cretaceous period the coast of the Gulf of Guinea was greatly submerged, and much of it became part of the system of perioceanic depressions of Africa’s western periphery. The border zone between Cameroon, Nigeria, and the Republic of Chad belonged to the southeastern wall and spurs of the Bénoué graben depression, which is filled with a great amount of Cretaceous and Lower Paleogenic deposits. The Bénoué graben runs parallel to a zone of fractures (the Cameroon line), which from the end of the Cretaceous period was the site of repeated volcanic activity (the Mount Cameroun volcano); in the same zone intrusions of young granitoids were found (dating from the end of the Cretaceous to the beginning of the Paleogenic period).

The most important minerals are Precambrian iron ores (total reserves, 150 million tons), gold, young mantle bauxites (the biggest deposit is Minim-Martap; preliminary estimates placethe total reserves at 1 billion tons), and natural gas in the region of the Logbaba perioceanic depression (total reserves, about 400million cu m).


Climate. Southern Cameroon has an equatorial and continually humid climate. The average temperature of the warmest month (February or March) is 24°-28°C and of the coldest month (July or August), 22°-24°C. The annual precipitation is 1, 500–2, 000 mm in the interior regions, over 3, 000 mm along the coast, and up to 10, 000 mm on the western and southwestern slopes of Mount Cameroun. The rest of the country has an equatorial monsoon climate with a rainy summer (from April-May to September-October) and a dry winter (lasting from four to seven months). The average monthly temperatures are from 19°-21°C to 22°-24°C on the Adamaoua Plateau and from 26°C to 32°-33°C in the lower regions of the north. In the north annual precipitation is 500 mm or less.

Rivers and lakes. Cameroon has a dense river network with much water. The basins of the Sanaga, Nyong, Ntem, and other rivers that empty into the Bight of Biafra cover the southwestern and central part of the country. The rivers of southeastern Cameroon (the Kadeï’ and the Dja) belong to the system of the Sangha River of the Congo River basin. The Bénoué River, the chief tributary of the Niger, rises in the northern slopes of the Adamaoua Plateau. The extreme north and northeast of the country (with the Logone and Chari rivers) belongs to the Lake Chad basin, the southern extremity of which is in Cameroon. The rivers have many rapids, possess an abundance of hydroelectric power, and are mostly not suitable for navigation (except the Bénoué and the sections of the coastal rivers near their mouths).

Soil and flora. Forests cover from 15 million to 16 million hectares, or about one-third of the country. Humid evergreen equatorial forests grow on red-yellow ferrolite soils in the south of the country, and mangroves grow along the coast. The humid equatorial forests have many trees yielding valuable lumber, such as mahogany (cashew, sapelli, and sipo), Persian parrotia (azobe), ebony, Atzelia bipindendis, obeche, and Picnanttas angolensis. The central part of the country has many parklike deciduous-evergreen forests and high-grass savannas of the Guinea-Sudan type on red ferrolite soils, and the northern part has savannas of the Sudan type and desert savannas on red-brown or black tropical soils. The highest regions are covered with mountain evergreen forests or secondary savannas on brown humus-ferrolite soils; Mount Cameroun has mountain-meadow vegetation above the mountain-forest line.

Fauna. The fauna of Cameroon combines elements of the forest fauna of the West African subregion and the savanna fauna of the East African subregion of the Ethiopian zoogeographic region. The forests abound in animals living in trees, particularly monkeys; there are also elephants, hippopotamuses, crocodiles, many birds, snakes, and a great variety of insects. In the savannas there are ungulates (buffalo, rhinoceroses, antelope, and giraffes) and predatory animals (lions, cheetahs, and leopards). Large birds include ostriches, pelicans, marabous, crowned cranes, and bustards. The fauna of Cameroon is protected in the Bénoué, Bouba-Djida, and Waza national parks and the Bafia, Dja, Douala-Edéa, Campo, and Faro preserves.

Natural regions. The coastal region is a lowland with mangroves and swampy forests and volcanic Mount Cameroun, which is marked by vertical topographic zonality. The low mountains of southern Cameroon have humid equatorial forest topography. The upland of central Cameroon includes a mosaic of seasonally humid forests and high-grass savannas in the relatively low eastern part and mountain-forest and mountain-savanna topography in the higher western part. The plain of northern Cameroon has dry savanna topography.


The majority of the population belongs to three language families: Bantu in the south and east (about 2.2 million, 1969 estimate), Eastern Bantoid in the center and the west (about 1.7 million people), and Hausa in the north (0.9 million people). The Bantu people include the Douala, Balundu, Basa, and Batanga in the coastal regions; the Fang, including the Bulu, Eton, Yaoundé, Bene, and Bete around the city of Yaoundé; and the Maka, Ndzem, and Kaka in the east. The Babinga, Baka, and Bakola Pygmies (about 10, 000 people) also speak Bantu languages. The eastern Bantoid group of peoples includes the Bami-leke, Bamoum, Widekum, Tikar, and Tiv; and the Hausa peoples include the Bata, Mandara, Masa, and Kotoko. Peoples of Central Sudan live in the north and in the central regions; they number about 35, 000 people and include the Chamba, Mbum, Gbaya, and Bute; about 500, 000 Fulbe live in the north. The official languages are French and English. Slightly more than 40 percent of the population practice traditional beliefs and rites, about 40 percent are Christians (primarily in the central and southern part of the country), and about 20 percent are Muslims (chiefly in the northern part). The Gregorian calendar is official.

From 1960 to 1970 the average population increase was 2.1 percent per year. The economically active population amounts to 3, 153, 600 people (1970 estimate), or 54 percent of the total population. In Eastern Cameroon about 90 percent and in Western Cameroon almost all of the economically active population is engaged in agriculture. A considerable part of the working class of Eastern Cameroon is engaged in agriculture, and many workers are employed in construction, transportation, and trade; the number of industrial workers is small. Most of the workers in Western Cameroon are employed in large agricultural companies. The workers of Cameroon are mainly rural migrants who rarely manage to break their ties with agriculture.

The population distribution is uneven. The average density is 12.3 persons per sq km (1970). The greatest population density is in the coastal zone (50 to 100 people per sq km) and on the plateau in the west (over 300 people per sq km); on the Adamaoua Plateau the population density drops to two people per sq km. The urban population amounts to 20 percent (1970). The most important cities are Douala (250, 000; 1970), Yaoundé (178, 000), Bafoussam, Foumban, Maroua, Kumba, Victoria, Garoua, and Tiko.

Man inhabited what is now Cameroon in very ancient times. Excavations near Maroua, Betare Oya, Yaoundé, and Okola uncovered stone work implements of the Middle and Upper Paleolithic eras. The earliest inhabitants are considered to have been Pygmies. In the first millennium B.C. there were apparently two centers of ancient culture in Cameroon, one along the coast in the region of Mount Cameroun and the other in the regions adjoining Lake Chad. The tribes living there engaged in hunting, livestock raising, and primitive farming. They had contact with the countries of the Mediterranean through the Sahara and apparently by naval routes. From about the eighth to the 14th century A.D. northern Cameroon was part of the region of the Sao archaeological culture, which was widespread in Africa.

In the 15th and 16th centuries the Mandara sultanate arose in the region of the Mandara Mountains; it included the northwestern regions of northern Cameroon. The sultanate was apparently dependent on the Bornu state. Islam began spreading from there to Cameroon in the 18th century. In the early 19th century the Fulbe, a nomadic pastoral tribe, invaded Cameroon, conquered the Mandara sultanate, and founded several feudal Muslim principalities—called lamidats—in northern and central Cameroon. The strong, feudal, centralized Bamoum state played a great role in the history of the peoples of central Cameroon in the 18th and 19th centuries; this state provided protection for smaller principalities in the fight against the Fulbe.

Among most of the peoples of southern Cameroon the primitive communal system was at different stages of disintegration in the 18th and 19th centuries. The state arose there relatively late and only among the Douala people. The first information concerning this state dates from the early 19th century. The Douala state developed on the basis of middleman trade with Europeans. The trade articles were at first slaves and later ivory, palm oil, and pepper. The Europeans brought in salt, fabrics, dishware, copper bars, and alcohol. The first Europeans to penetrate Cameroon were Portuguese sailors, who landed in 1472 on the Cameroon coast at the mouth of the Wouri River. Seeing a great number of prawns in the river, they called it Rio dos Camaroes, or river of prawns; subsequently the Europeans extended this name to the whole country (Kamerun in German, Cameroun in French, and Cameroon in English).

Dutch missionaries and traders began arriving in Cameroon in the late 16th century, as did British, French, and German missionaries and traders in the early 18th century. An American Presbyterian mission was founded in 1885 and a German Catholic mission in 1890. In 1884, G. Nachtigal, a German traveler and emissary of the German government, imposed on the rulers of Douala a 30-year treaty whereby it would be a protectorate of Germany. After consolidating itself on the coast from 1885 to 1895, Germany began to move into the interior regions of the country. The rulers of several states of central Cameroon (Bamoum, Tikar, and others), weakened by internal feudal strife and attacks by the Muslim lamidats of Fulbe, made an agreement with the German conquerors. In other regions the Germans had to overcome the resistance of the local population and the armed struggle of several peoples, such as the Bakwiri (1891–94), the Basa and Bakoko (1892–1905), and the Maka and Ndzem (1898–1907). The borders of the German colony of Cameroon were fixed in agreements between Germany and Great Britain of 1885, 1886, and 1893 and between Germany and France of 1885, 1894, and 1911. Cameroon became an important source of agricultural raw materials for Germany. Palmnut kernels, palm oil, rubber, and lumber were exported from the country. German monopolies and individual groups of settlers seized from the local population the most fertile and conveniently located lands and founded on them plantations for the cultivation of cacao, coffee, tea, rubber trees, bananas, and oil palms. Highways and railroads were built using forced native labor.

The oppressive foreign rule caused a new wave of uprisings—around Bacho in 1904, in Bamenda in 1904–07, in the Dja-Nyong interfluve in 1905–07, and on the Adamaoua Plateau in 1907. These uprisings were suppressed by German punitive detachments.

At the beginning of World War I (1914–18), Cameroon became a theater of military operations between the Anglo-French and German armies. Cameroon was occupied by the British and French armies by February 1916 and divided between Great Britain and France in March. Some peoples (such as the Douala, Bamileke, and Tikar) were split up. In July 1922 the League of Nations sanctioned the division and gave France a mandate over Eastern Cameroon and Great Britain a mandate over Western Cameroon. The colonial legislation of French Equatorial Africa was introduced in Eastern Cameroon, and Western Cameroon was incorporated into Nigeria, which was a British colony. Great Britain ruled its possessions through indirect administration; the old historical forms of rule were formally retained, and representatives of the local traditional aristocracy became part of the colonial administration. The British founded in Western Cameroon a large plantation economy, which made large masses of the peasants landless. France ruled its colony mainly through direct administration. French capital exploited the population first of all through nonequivalent trade, a taxation policy, and the use of forced labor. The peasantry of Eastern Cameroon was drawn into the production of export crops (cacao, coffee, and bananas). Eastern Cameroon became a source of cheap agricultural raw materials.

The peoples of Eastern and Western Cameroon unleashed a struggle against the French and British colonialists; there were disturbances and uprisings at various times, including in 1922, 1928–29, and 1931. In World War II (1939–45), after the French government of Pétain capitulated before fascist Germany in 1940, Eastern Cameroon joined the forces of the French Resistance and virtually freed itself of the control of the Vichy government. The National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons, a mass organization of the native population founded in 1944, set forth for the first time the goal of political independence.

After World War II (from Dec. 13, 1946) the status of mandate territory for both parts of Cameroon was replaced by the status of UN trusteeship; France retained administration of Eastern Cameroon and Great Britain that of Western Cameroon, which was divided into Northern and Southern Cameroon.

The plunder of the natural wealth and cruel exploitation of the peoples of Cameroon by foreign monopolies and the continuing artificial division of the country caused greater and greater indignation in the population. The Union of the Populations of Cameroon (UPC), a party founded in Eastern Cameroon in 1948, took the lead in the struggle for independence. The party rapidly grew into one of the largest mass political organizations. The French administration repeatedly repressed the UPC (the directing committee of the party was arrested in 1950, and its regular congress was prohibited in 1952). In May 1955 the UPC organized a demonstration for the unification and independence of the country in several cities of Eastern Cameroon. The French troops fired at the demonstrators, and the UPC and its affiliated youth and women’s organizations were outlawed. In response to the police terror, the patriots of Cameroon opened a partisan struggle, which began in 1955 and in the course of which UPC leader Ruben Urn Nyobé died (September 1958). Under the pressure of the liberation struggle the French government undertook several constitutional maneuvers: Eastern Cameroon was declared a trustee state on Apr. 16, 1957, and a Legislative Assembly and a government were formed, but with extremely limited powers. However, these reforms did not successfully stop the liberation movement. With the struggle of the Cameroon people increasing in fervor, the UN proclaimed the independence of Eastern Cameroon on Jan. 1, 1960. In March 1960 the first constitution of the new state was published, and Eastern Cameroon became the Republic of Cameroon. On Nov. 13, 1960, the Republic of Cameroon and France concluded agreements on cooperation and technical aid; the government of Cameroon pledged to coordinate its policy of economic development and its foreign policy with France. France retained the right to keep its armed forces in Cameroon (the French troops withdrew from Cameroon in 1964); French companies were given considerable privileges.

After the proclamation of the independence of Nigeria in October 1960, a plebiscite was held, upon decision of the UN, in February 1961 in the northern and southern parts of Western Cameroon. Following the plebiscite, Northern Cameroon became part of the Federation of Nigeria; the inhabitants of Southern Cameroon voted for union with the Republic of Cameroon. The Federal Republic of Cameroon (FRC) was formed on Oct. 1, 1961. The member states of the federation were named respectively West Cameroon (formerly Southern Cameroon) and East Cameroon (formerly the Republic of Cameroon). Ahmadou Ahidjo, president of the Republic of Cameroon and leader of the Cameroonian Union (UC, founded in 1958), the ruling party of Eastern Cameroon, became president and head of the federal government; John Ngu Foncha, until 1970 leader of the Kamerun National Democratic Party (KNDP; founded in 1955), the ruling party of Western Cameroon, became vice-president. After the formation of the FRC the 1960 agreement with France was extended to the whole federation.

The long period of rule by Great Britain in Western Cameroon and by France in Eastern Cameroon brought about different levels of socioeconomic and cultural development for the two regions, weak transportation links, and differences in foreign economic and political orientations. The government of the FRC undertook several steps to strengthen the state and to create a unified economy; the Nigerian pound sterling in Western Cameroon was replaced by the African franc in 1962; the construction of highways and railroads linking the two territories of the state was begun; and a unified metric system was introduced on Jan. 1, 1964. The Cameroon National Union (CNU), a single political party for the whole federation, was founded in 1966. In addition to the UC, the new party included the KNDP and the parties of the legal opposition—the Cameroon National Convention (founded in 1960) and the Cameroon Union Congress (created in 1965)—as well as the legal wing of the UPC. The first congress of the CNU, held in March 1969, set forth a program for the development of the FRC, including attaining economic independence, strengthening the unity of the country, and forming a Cameroon nation. A policy of planned liberalism (see the section on economic geography) was proclaimed as a basis for economic development. As a result of the referendum held in Cameroon on May 20, 1972, the FRC was transformed into the United Republic of Cameroon (URC). A new constitution proclaiming the formation of an indivisible URC was enacted on June 2, 1972. The extraordinary congress of the CNU held on June 2–3, 1972, set forth ways for further stepping up the activity of the CNU within the unified state.

Cameroon was admitted to the UN on Sept. 20, 1960. In 1961 it participated in the founding of the Afro-Malagasy Union. In July 1973, Cameroon left this organization. Cameroon became a member of the Organization of African Unity in 1963 and of the Central African Customs and Economic Union in 1966. In 1962 and 1963, Cameroon and the Soviet Union concluded trade agreements and agreements on cultural, economic, and technological cooperation, and the two countries established diplomatic relations on Feb. 20, 1964. The government of Cameroon works for strengthening African solidarity and unity, against the racist regimes in Africa, and for the liquidation of the vestiges of colonialism on the African continent.


Orlova, A. S. “Uroven’ obshchestvennogo razvitiia narodov Kameruna k nachalu evropeiskoi kolonizatsii Afriki.” Sovetskaia etnografiia, 1959, no. 5.
Istoriia Afriki v XIX-nachale XX v. Moscow, 1967. Pages 331–34.
Noveishaia istoriia Afriki. Moscow, 1968.
Lebeuf, I. P. Archéologie tchadienne: Les Sao du Cameroun et du Tchad. Paris [1962].
Mveng, E. Histoire du Cameroun. Paris [1963].
Mohamadou, E. L’Histoire de Tibati. Yaoundé, 1965.
Annuaire national 1967, République Fedérale du Cameroun, Partie Histoire. Yaoundé, 1968.
Le Vine, V. Th. Le Cameroun, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1970.


The Cameroon National Union, or NUC (Union Nationale Camerounaise), was founded in 1966. The National Union of Cameroon Workers was founded in 1972 through a merger of the Cameroon Federation of Unions (founded in 1963), the Union of Denominational Workers Organizations of Cameroon (founded in 1962), and the West Cameroon Trade Union Congress.

General state of the economy. The basis of the economy is agriculture, specializing in the production of export crops. Cameroon holds the fourth place in Africa, after Ghana, Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast, in the harvest of cacao beans. The processing of agricultural raw materials predominates in industry. Foreign trade plays a great role. As a result of the long domination of German and later of French monopolies in Eastern Cameroon and of British monopolies in Western Cameroon, the economy is extremely backward, produces mainly agricultural goods and raw materials, and is greatly dependent on the world capitalist market.

After the proclamation of independence, the government carried out measures to strengthen and develop the economy; among others, it set up the Railroad Administration of Cameroon; the National Investment Company, the Cameroon National Society for Commerce, Industry, and Development; and the Society of Producers of Oil Palm Goods of Mbongo and Eséka. But on the whole foreign capital has not only retained but expanded its position in the economy of Cameroon. The policy of promoting private capital investments and the great benefits and privileges granted by the Cameroon investment code open new opportunities for the penetration of foreign monopolies into the economy. During the 1960’s the French, West German, and American monopolies strengthened their positions in Cameroon, and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Economic Community (EEC), and other international capitalist organizations were very active.

While the development of a private national sector has been promoted since 1969, the government policy also provides for a greater role of the state in the economy, for an increase in participation by the state in foreign companies and the development of such companies, and for the establishment of state enterprises and companies. The agricultural cooperatives are mainly purchasing and marketing cooperatives. A program of economic and social development divided into five-year periods has been drawn up for 1960 through 1980. During the first two five-year programs (1960–61 to 1964–65 and 1965–66 to 1970–71) the gross national product increased from 113.6 billion African francs in 1960 to 269.4 billion African francs in 1970–71. The third five-year program, from 1971–72 to 1975–76, provides for the development of an infrastructure and of agricultural production, for an accelerated development of the industrial potential, and for security for about half of all the investments from domestic capital investments.

Agriculture. Although communal farming has continued in most of the regions, it is disintegrating. Commodity relations and private peasant farming are developing in regions specializing in export crops, and a differentiation of the peasantry is under way. The northern regions have retained semifeudal relations.

In 1970 cultivated lands planted with agricultural crops amounted to 2.2 million hectares, or 4.7 percent of the total territory of Cameroon; of these lands 56 to 57 percent were planted with food crops, 14 to 15 percent with food and export crops (coffee and cacao), and 29 to 30 percent with export crops alone. Slash-and-burn farming is almost universal, and the main production implement is the hoe (on small farms).

The chief export crops are cacao (112, 000 tons in 1971–72), coffee (89, 000 tons in 1971), bananas (125, 000 tons in 1970), cotton (18, 000 tons of cotton fiber in 1971), rubber (12, 000 tons), peanuts (195, 000 tons), and oil palms (47, 000 tons of palm oil in 1971). In the eastern part of Cameroon the production of these crops is almost entirely in the hands of Africans; in the western part most of the plantations belong to a state company, the Cameroon Development Corporation. Export crops are grown mainly in the Yaoundé-Ebolowa region (cacao), in the Nkongsamba region (coffee), on the slopes of Mount Cameroun, in the region of the city of Bamenda, and on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean (bananas, cacao, rubber trees, oil palms, and tea). Cotton and peanuts are grown in the north. Crops grown for domestic consumption include cassava (930, 000 tons in 1970); millet and sorghum (426, 000 tons in 1971); rice (22, 000 tons) and corn (355, 000 tons), mainly in the northern part of Cameroon; and sweet potatoes and yams, mainly in the southern part. These crops are grown on small subsistence or semisubsistence peasant farms. New export and food crops are being introduced, including tropical fruit (especially pineapples), sugarcane, tobacco, and pepper.

Livestock raising, which is basically extensive, plays an important role in the economy of the northern and western regions. In 1970 meadows and pastures covered 8.3 million hectares. In 1970–71 there were 2.1 million head of cattle, 350, 000 pigs, and 3.8 million sheep and goats.

Only 7.5 million hectares of the country’s forests are accessible for exploitation and 3 million hectares are actually exploited. Cameroon has a monopoly in supplying to the world market azobe timber, a very valuable tropical timber used in the construction of dockyards and in making sleepers; ilomba, sapelli, and cashew timber are also exported. Lumber is obtained from regions convenient for export, in the coastal regions, and along the railroads. Lumber procurement amounts to about 400, 000 tons a year.

Fishing is developed in the coastal regions, in the basins of the Logone and Chari rivers, and in the Bénoué River. The fish catch is 15, 000 tons in the sea (1969) and 65, 000 tons in the rivers and lakes. A considerable part of the fish is exported to neighboring countries. Prawns are also caught.

Industry. About 4 percent of the economically active population is engaged in industry (1970). The mining industry is poorly developed. Mining of mineral raw materials, which is almost completely controlled by French capital, yields small quantities of tin (35 tons in 1971) around Mayo Darlé, gold (3 kg) around Ndokayo and Batouri, cyanite (disthene) near Edéa, and building materials.

The hydroelectric resources are considerable but poorly utilized. A hydroelectric power plant on the Sanaga River, which had a capacity of 197, 000 kilowatts (kW) in 1970, produces the bulk of the electric power (1.2 billion kW-hr in 1971); the power plant belongs to the mixed French-Cameroonian Enelcam Society. There are also hydroelectric power plants in Dschang (260 kW), Foumban (128 kW), Buea-Njoke (1, 500 kW), Macalé (720 kW), and Luermannfall (300 kW); there are 20 steam power plants.

The most important branches of the manufacturing industry are lumber and wood processing and the preliminary processing of agricultural raw materials, which are dominated by French private capital in the eastern part and by British private capital in the western part of Cameroon. There were about 30 sawmill enterprises in 1969; part of the output (up to 70 percent) is used for domestic consumption. The eastern part of Cameroon has enterprises producing wood plates, about ten furniture enterprises, and match, plywood, and parquetry factories. The processing of agricultural raw materials includes cotton-cleaning, oil, and soap enterprises; factories processing cacao and coffee; rice-polishing and tobacco factories; beer breweries; tea factories; slaughterhouses; meat-canning and flour-milling plants; sugar refineries; and enterprises for preliminary rubber processing. In this part of the country there are also a spinning and weaving factory, a dyeing combine, plants for the assembly of bicycles and transistor radios and for producing small agricultural implements, and two cement plants. The western part of Cameroon is the site of several sawmill enterprises and factories for the production of palm oil, tea, and rubber. The main industrial centers are the cities of Douala and Yaoundé.

Cameroon’s largest enterprise is the aluminum plant in Edéa, which belongs to the mixed French-Cameroonian Alucam Society; the plant receives alumina from the Republic of Guinea and electric power from the hydroelectric power plant on the Sanaga River, taking over 90 percent of the power plant’s electric power output; in 1971 the aluminum plant produced 51,000 tons of aluminum in plates. The production of corrugated sheet aluminum was organized in 1962, and the production of rolled aluminum, in 1968.

Handicrafts, which are developed everywhere, include pottery, weaving, leatherwork, wood and bone carving, and jewelry.

Transportation. The automobile is the chief means of transportation. In 1970 the country had 32, 700 km of roads, of which 1, 300 km were covered with asphalt, and 1, 014 km of railroads. The trans-Cameroon Yaoundé-Ngaoundere railroad, 705 km long, is under construction (1972); its construction is being financed by the USA, France, and the EEC. The first section of the railroad, the 296-km Yaoundé-Belabo section, was put into operation in 1969. Sea transportation is almost entirely in the hands of French companies. The main ports are Douala (freight turnover, 1.8 million tons in 1970), Kribi (70, 000 tons), Victoria (90, 000 tons), and Tiko (90, 000 tons in 1970). River navigation is possible only in the high-water season (from July to October) on the Bénoué River; the river port of Garoua had a freight turnover of 20, 000 tons in 1971. The largest airports are in Douala and Yaoundé.

Air-Cameroon, a national airline created in October 1971, has international flights.

Foreign trade. Cameroon’s foreign trade is growing systematically. From 1961 to 1970 exports increased 2.6 times and imports 2.8 times. In 1965, 1967, and 1970, Cameroon had an unfavorable balance of trade because of a drop in world prices on some of Cameroon’s agricultural export products and a great increase in the import of equipment, machines, and semifinished goods. The chief export articles are cacao and its products (accounting for 31 percent of the export value in 1970–71), coffee (23.4 percent), aluminum (9 percent), lumber (9.4 percent), cotton fabrics (7.8 percent), bananas (about 1 percent), rubber (over 2 percent), tobacco, oil and nut kernels of the oil palm, and peanuts. The chief import articles are equipment (26.8 percent of the import value in 1970–71), finished goods (42.1 percent), semifinished goods (12.4 percent), food products (9.4 percent), and mineral raw materials (4.9 percent). France, Cameroon’s main trade partner, accounts for 50.4 percent of Cameroon’s imports and 29.6 percent of its exports (1970); imports from and exports to the other states of the EEC account for 19.1 and 40.1 percent of the total, followed by the USA with 7.7 and 9.7 percent and Great Britain with 3.7 and 1.9 percent. Trade with the socialist countries is developing. In 1971 the trade turnover between Cameroon and the USSR amounted to 5.1 million rubles, including Cameroon’s imports from the USSR totaling 1.4 million rubles. Cameroon exports to the USSR coffee, cacao beans, cacao oil, natural rubber, and logs of valuable trees and imports from the USSR various industrial goods and food products. The monetary unit is the African franc; 255.79 African francs are equal to US $1 (May 1972).

Internal differences. The Coastal Province accounts for 4.5 percent of the territory, about 10 percent of the population, and nine-tenths of the total industrial output (aluminum-casting, food, textile, and woodworking industries); there is banana, coffee, and cacao cultivation and fishing. The West Province, acounting for 2.8 percent of the territory and 16 percent of the population, is the main region of banana harvesting in the eastern part of Cameroon. The South Central Province, accounting for about 25 percent of the territory and 22 percent of the population, is the chief region of coffee and cacao bean harvesting. The East Province, accounting for 23.8 percent of the territory and 5 percent of the population, is a region of lumber procurement and the cultivation of coffee, cacao beans, and rubber trees. The Northern Province, accounting for about 35 percent of the territory and about 30 percent of the population, is a region of nomadic and seminomadic livestock raising and the chief region for the cultivation of rice, peanuts, and cotton and for the production of dried and cured fish. The Northwestern and Southwestern provinces account for 9 percent of the territory and 16 percent of the population. Bananas, cacao, coffee, oil palms, and tea are grown along the coast, and livestock is raised in the mountains. Food crops, primarily root crops, are cultivated everywhere, and lumber production is developing.


Loginova, V. P. Federativnaia Respublikia Kamerun.Moscow, 1968.
Golubchik, M. M. Federativnaia Respublika Kamerun.Moscow, 1968.
Mel’nikov, I., and V. Korochantsev. Kamerun.Moscow, 1972.
Atlas du Cameroun. Yaoundé, 1959.
“Le Marché Camerounais 1971.” Marchés tropicaux et méditerranéens, 1971, NO. 1, 325. (special issue.)


The armed forces consist of ground troops, an air force, and a navy. The president is the supreme commander in chief, and the state minister of the armed forces provides the general leadership. The army is made up of volunteers. At the beginning of 1971 the total strength of the armed forces was about 3, 400 men.

Medicine and public health. According to incomplete data, in 1965 the birthrate was 49.9 per 1,000 population and the death-rate, 25.7; infant mortality is very high—137.2 per 1,000 babies born alive (1967). Pathology is dominated by infectious and parasitic diseases and avitaminoses. Onchocersiasis and genitourinary schistosomiasis are prevalent everywhere. Trypanosomiasis, loaiasis, and ancylostomiasis are encountered in the southern forest regions; leprosy is found in the center and in the west of this region; frambesia and foci of wuchereriasis, intestinal schistosomiasis, and amebiasis are found in the southwest. In the mountain region there are foci of taeniasis and malaria is endemic. Wuchereriasis is endemic in the northern part of the savanna region. The largest focus of intestinal schistosomiasis is on the Adamaoua Plateau. Wuchereriasis is widespread in the northern region, where there are also outbreaks of skin leishmaniasis and taeniasis.

In 1967 there were 85 hospitals and medical centers with 11, 200 hospital beds, of which 7, 400 were located in 50 state medical institutions (only 2.1 beds per thousand population). Outpatient service is provided by outpatient departments of hospitals, one polyclinic, 473 public health centers, 210 dispensaries, 15 medical posts, and one mobile brigade. In 1968 there were also 39 prenatal, six pediatric, and eight dental centers.

In 1971 there were 160 doctors (one doctor per 37, 000 population), of whom 146 were state employees, 446 assistant doctors, 11 dentists, 55 pharmacists, and more than 650 intermediatelevel personnel. Nurses and midwives are trained at schools in Ayos, Yaoundé, and Douala.

In 1967 appropriations for public health amounted to 2.5 percent of the state budget. In the same year the USSR presented to the Cameroonian people 700, 000 doses of antitetanus vaccine and a medical library, and in 1971 it gave 100, 000 doses of anticholera vaccine.


Veterinary services. The tsetse fly causes widespread trypanosomiasis of farm animals (844 new outbreaks; all figures for 1973), which causes great damage to livestock raising. There are frequent outbreaks of emphysematous carbuncle (656) and hemorrhagic septicemia of cattle (121), caused by the large amount of precipitation and the swamps in many regions of Cameroon. Streptothricosis and babesiasis are noted in the savanna regions. Cattle plague and cattle pulmonary pneumonia (11) are enzootic on the Adamaoua Plateau, and there are cases of malignant anthrax (28) and foot-and-mouth disease (11). There are also incidences of rabies (seven new outbreaks among farm animals), rickettsiosis and brucellosis. Farm animals are widely affected by helminthiasis (dicroceliasis, fascioliasis, paramphistomasis, cysticercosis).

There were 19 veterinarians in Cameroon in 1973. French specialists from the Fort Lamy laboratory of the Republic of Chad conduct scientific research and practice to some extent preventive veterinary medicine.


Since Western Cameroon was ruled by Britain and Eastern Cameroon by France before independence, the two parts of the country have different public education systems. The education system in Eastern Cameroon is similar to the French system, and instruction is in French. At six years of age children enter elementary school, which is composed of three two-year cycles—the preparatory, elementary, and intermediate cycles. At the age of 11 or 12 students take competitive examinations for admission to general educational or vocational secondary schools. Complete secondary education is provided by seven-year general educational and technical lycées. At the end of the lycée students take examinations to obtain the baccalauréat, which is necessary to enter a higher school. Incomplete secondary education is provided by four-year general educational and technical colleges. The education system of Western Cameroon is composed of the eight-year elementary school, broken down into two cycles of four years each, and a five-year secondary school. Instruction is in English. Both French and English are compulsory subjects in all the schools of the country.

The public education system included 60 percent of the children in 1970. In the 1969–70 academic year there were about 900, 000 students in the elementary schools and over 64, 000 students in the secondary schools. The church is influential in the public education system; more than 50 percent of the elementary school students attend missionary schools, and about 70 percent of the secondary school students attend missionary educational institutions.

Vocational and technical education is poorly developed. In the 1969–70 academic year there were 15, 500 students in vocational and technical schools. The only school that provides a complete secondary technical education is the technical lycée in Douala. Elementary school teachers are trained by the normal school in the city of Nkongsamba and by pedagogical courses (more than 3, 000 students in the 1967–68 academic year).

The largest higher educational institution is the university, which opened in Yaoundé in 1962. The university has three faculties—philosophy and humanities, law and economics, and natural science. The university has several specialized educational institutions. Yaoundé is also the site of the Higher Normal School, which trains secondary-school teachers, as well as the Advanced School of Agriculture and the National School of Administration. The higher educational institutions had 2, 690 students in the 1969–70 academic year. The National Agricultural College and a forestry school are under construction in Cameroon (1972); the construction is financed by credit granted by the Soviet Union according to an agreement signed in April 1966. The largest library in Cameroon is the National Library of Cameroon in Yaoundé (10, 000 volumes).


The Council of Scientific and Applied Research, a government body, was set up in 1962; the National Office of Scientific and Technological Research was created in May 1965; and the Cameroon Association for Assisting the Development of Science was founded in 1972. The chief center of scientific research is the University of Yaoundé, where research is conducted by about 150 professors, of whom over 70 are Cameroonians. The main orientations are medicine, the geography of Cameroon, and the agricultural sciences. The university has a chemical laboratory for medicinal plants and a medical research center.

The Pasteur Institute in Yaoundé conducts research in virology, and the institute in Kumba carries on helminthology research. The Research Institute of Cameroon, jointly with the French National Institute of Geography and the French Office of Scientific and Technical Research Overseas, studies hydrology, hydrogeology, and oceanography and is working on the cartography of the country; a national atlas of Cameroon has been composed.

State centers of agronomic research engage in the selection of new crops and work in contact with French scientific institutions. (The French Institute of Cacao and Coffee, for instance, directs centers in Nkolbissong and Nkoemvone.) There are also agronomical centers in Guétale and Maroua (food crops and cotton), in Dschang (food crops, coffee, tea, and cinchona tree), and in other cities. French scientific research institutes for studying oil and oil plants, fruit and citrus fruit, cotton, and other crops have experimental farms and plantations in Cameroon.

A laboratory in Douala and a botanical research station conduct research in forestry; Victoria has a botanical garden.


Le Deuxième Plan quinquennal du Cameroun. Paris, 1966.


French-language publications (1973) include the Journal officiel de la République Unie du Cameroun, an official publication published twice a month, also published in English; La Presse du Cameroun, a daily newspaper founded in 1927, with a circulation of 10, 000 copies (all figures for 1970); L’Unité, the organ of the UNC, a weekly newspaper founded in 1959, with a circulation of 10, 000 copies; L’Effort Camerounais, a Catholic weekly newspaper founded in 1955, with a circulation of 5, 000 copies; and La Semaine Camerounaise, a Protestant weekly journal, with a circulation of 4, 000 copies.

The Cameroon Press Agency, the official news agency founded in 1960, publishes a daily bulletin. Radio broadcasting started in 1955. There are radio-broadcasting centers in Yaoundé, Garoua, and Buea. Programs are broadcast in English, French, and the local languages.

Oral folk art, including legends, tales, and songs, plays a great role in the life of the peoples of Cameroon. In the early 20th century the Bamoum people had a native writing system (created by the ruler of the Bamoum state, the sultan Njoya). Three books had been written by 1921—a history of the Bamoum state (French translation, 1952) and medical and religious treatises. But this writing did not develop further. From the 1930’s works in the local languages (Bulu and Douala), mainly folkloric, began to appear sporadically. The modern literature of Cameroon is written mainly in French and to a lesser extent in English (by writers who are natives of Western Cameroon).

The first works in French (transcriptions of folklore and ethnographic essays) appeared in the 1920’s. The best-known writer of this period was I. Moumie-Etia (1889–1939). Literature began to develop in the 1950’s, in the period of the armed struggle against the colonialists. The tense political situation and the national character of the movement lent a civic spirit to poetry and prose. This period produced the brilliant poet E. Yondo (born 1930), author of the collection Kamerun! Kamerun! (1960; Russian translation, 1963), whose work is rooted in folk-song traditions. The social novel held the most prominent place in prose in the 1950’s. Writers portrayed various strata of society and elucidated important problems of life in Cameroon. Their criticism was directed against colonialism in all its manifestations and against obsolescent elements of the patriarchal society. The most prominent writers of the 1950’s were Mongo Beti (pseudonym of A. Biyidi; also wrote under the pseudonym Eza Boto; born 1932), author of the novels Cruel City (1955), The Poor Christ of Bomba (1956; Russian translation, 1962), Mission to Rala (1957; Russian translation, 1961), and King Lazarus (1958; Russian translation, 1966); F. Oyônô (born 1929), author of the novels Houseboy (1956; Russian translation, 1964), The Old Man and the Medal (1956; Russian translation, 1962), and The Road From Europe (1960); B. Matip (born 1932), author of the novella Africa, We Don’t Pay Attention to You (1956) and the fairy-tale collection To the Beautiful Star (1962); and the poet F. Sengat-Kuo.

The proclamation of independence in 1960 was followed by a movement for the unification of the country’s cultural forces; the Cameroon Cultural Society, a local section of the African Society of Culture, was founded in 1962; the Association of Cameroonian Poets and Writers was formed in 1966; and Abbia, a journal devoted to cultural questions published in English and French, was first published in February 1963. The editor in chief of Abbia is the cultural figure, poet, and publicist B. Fonlon. The prose of the 1960’s essentially develops the tradition of the social novel of mores. R. Philombe (pseudonym of P. L. Ombede; born in 1930), author of the novel Sola, My Darling (1966) and of the collection of novellas Letters From My Storeroom (1964); F. Bebey (born in 1929), author of the novel Agatha Mudio’s Son (1968); and F. B. M. Evembe, author of the novel Temporarily on Earth (1966), all expose the conflict between the traditional way of life and modern times and denounce such survivals of the past as polygamy and the purchase of brides. J. M. Nzouan Keu (born in 1933) draws mainly on mythological materials for his novellas (the collection The Breath of the Ancestors, 1965).


Gal’perina, E. L. “Literaturnye problemy v stranakh Afriki.” In the collection Sovremennaia literatura za rubezhom. Moscow, 1962.
Ivasheva, V. V. Literatura stran Zapadnoi Afriki. Moscow, 1967.
Potekhina, G. I. Ocherki sovremennoi literatury Zapadnoi Afriki. Moscow, 1968.
Korochantsev, V. “Pod zvezdami nezavisimosti.” Literaturnaia gazeta, Oct. 28, 1970, no. 44.


In addition to traditional African round and rectangular huts (made of clay, stone, wood, or bamboo) on a wooden frame and with a conical straw roof, there are found in Cameroon (among the Musgo, a people belonging to the Mandara group) original cone-shaped dwellings (6–8 m high), entirely molded of clay like a large vessel. Triangular grooves creating an interesting plastic pattern are made on the walls of the hut as protection against erosion. The entrance and the walls inside the hut are decorated with incised or painted polychromatic geometric patterns.

In the late 19th century big cities (Yaoundé and Douala), built in eclectic Arabic and European styles, arose in Cameroon. In the 1950’s and 1960’s large modern public buildings (some of them designed by local architects such as Ngode and Collins) were built in the central regions and standard houses and barracks in the outlying regions.

Wood carving is common among all the peoples of Cameroon. Numerous household articles (chairs, benches, and armchairs) include complex carved compositions of small human, animal, and bird figures. Ritual statuettes in the shape of poles are carved of wood. To make these statuettes more picturesque, they are painted in bright colors, ornamented with shiny shells, bracelets, and beads, and small pieces of metal and glass are placed in the eyes. Cameroonians make a great variety of masks (most of them frightening) carved from one piece of wood, covered with leather, and brightly colored. Greatly distorted and exaggerated features and forceful and lush carving make these masks extremely effective. Various kinds of crafts are developed.

Cameroonians make clay vessels, pipes, and ashtrays; bronze jars, vases, and pipes are cast by the lost-wax method. Other arts include embroidery and the making of calabashes and various ritual objects of beads on a wire frame. A national art school is now developing; the painters and sculptors Abossolo, Kenfak, and Mpando have made great contributions to it.


Ol’derogge, D. Iskusstvo narodov Zapadnoi Afriki v muzeiakh SSSR. Leningrad-Moscow, 1958.
L’Habitat au Cameroun. Paris, 1952.
Germann, P., and F. Herrmann. Beiträge zur afrikanischen Kunst. Berlin, 1958.

Dance and music game spectacles have been common among the peoples of Cameroon from very ancient times. Since the proclamation of independence, a national theatrical art has been developing and dance collectives and amateur theaters have been organized. The People’s Theater of Cameroon opened with a play on a biblical theme, Games About Adam (1960), and then staged plays by the theater’s director Boé A-Amang, The Chase After Money (1965) and Lovers From Nowhere (1968). The Avant-garde of Africa, directed by Dikongue Pipa, staged his plays Legend of a Sorcerer (1967) and The Inevitable Compromise (1969). Guillaume Oyônô Mbia’s comedies of morals Three Suitors: One Husband, Until Further Notice and Our Daughter Will Not Marry are staged not only in Cameroon but also in many other African countries. In 1969 the Cameroonian Federation of Amateur Theater (founded in 1968) organized the first festival of dramatic art with the participation of 12 of the best amateur theater companies of Cameroon. In 1970–71 the federation held the First Theater Season, a nine-month festival, in the cities of Yaoundé and Douala.




an estuary in the Atlantic Ocean (part of the Bight of Biafra), on the western coast of Africa, near the country of Cameroon. It is formed by the common mouth of the Cameroon, Wouri, and Mungo rivers. The coasts of the estuary are low-lying, covered with mangrove vegetation, and indented by small bays (bights). The depth of the estuary ranges from 11 to 24 m, but decreases to 6 m in the sandbars at the entrances to the rivers. The tides are semidiurnal, with a height of 1.6 m. The speed of the tidal currents during ebb tide reaches 10 km per hr. The port of Douala is located on the Cameroon estuary.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Republic of Cameroon

Capital city: Yaounde

Internet country code: .cm

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

National anthem: “Ô Cameroun, berceau de nos ancêtres” (O Cameroon, Thou Cradle of Our Fathers)

Geographical description: Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Biafra, between Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria

Total area: 184,000 sq. mi. (475,000 sq. km.)

Climate: Varies with terrain, from tropical along coast to semiarid and hot in north

Nationality: noun: Cameroonian(s); adjective: Cameroonian

Population: 18,060,382 (July 2007 CIA est.)

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%

Languages spoken: French (official), English (official), 24 major African language groups

Religions: Indigenous religions 40%, Roman Catholic 20%, Protestant 20%, Muslim 20%

Legal Holidays:

Assumption DayAug 15
Christmas DayDec 25
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
Labor DayMay 1
National DayMay 20
New Year's DayJan 1
Youth DayFeb 11
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


1. a republic in West Africa, on the Gulf of Guinea: became a German colony in 1884; divided in 1919 into the Cameroons (administered by Britain) and Cameroun (administered by France); Cameroun and the S part of the Cameroons formed a republic in 1961 (the N part joined Nigeria); became a member of the Commonwealth in 1995. Official languages: French and English. Religions: Christian, Muslim, and animist. Currency: franc. Capital: Yaoundé. Pop.: 16 296 000 (2004 est.). Area: 475 500 sq. km (183 591 sq. miles)
2. an active volcano in W Cameroon: the highest peak on the West African coast. Height: 4070 m (13 352 ft.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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In addition to the inaugural ceremony during which Cameroonian and Tunisian officials presented the business climate and opportunities for economic and commercial cooperation between the two countries, the forum's program included targeted B2B meetings with the main Cameroonian operators followed by companies.
The official told AFP on Tuesday that the Boko Haram attack sparked fierce combat with Cameroonian troops.
UNHCR has previously criticised Cameroon for refusing to accept refugees from Rann, in breach of its international obligations, but UNHCR officials met Cameroonian authorities on Wednesday and received assurances that refugees would not be forced to return, it said.
Records said the incident occurred in November 2017, when the Cameroonian reportedly walked into washroom of his residence to see his wife holding a knife and threatening to kill herself.
Boko Haram attacks have killed more than 2,500 Cameroonians since 2014 especially in the Far North region, according to the Defense Ministry.
Cameroonian international Sebastien Siani becomes Al Jazira's second foreign acquisition.
The 6-foot-3 Arnaud Noah, also a Cameroonian, was the 2016 Finals MVP but couldn't get his NCAA spot from Eugene.
To reduce the number of Cameroonian women exploited in destination countries in the Middle East, the government enhanced screening procedures at its airports, requiring proof of valid contracts in some cases.
Authorities have arrested four Cameroonians for involvement in alleged swindling and in the faking of U.S.