No man can help another without helping himself
- Waldo Emerson

Cameroon factsheet

Facts and History

Cameroon is situated in Central Africa, at juncture of the Gulf of Guinea.
It is bounded on the North by Chad, on the East by the Central Africa Republic, on the South by Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and on the West by Nigeria. Cameroon has undergone several name spellings according to its colonial history. Indeed, it is written in Portuguese Camaroes, Kamerun in German, and English Cameroon and in French Cameroun. The territory was colonized by the Germans in 1914 and was placed under French and British administration by the United Nations (UN) after the First World War from 1914 to 1918. France inherited the most part, known of East Cameroon. While Great Britain was managing the West Cameroon. On 1 January 1960, the French independent accesses under the new name of “Republic of Cameroon”. February 11, 1961, is organized in West Cameroon, under the supervision of the United Nations, a plebiscite in which the population voted overwhelmingly for independence and unification automatic with the Republic of Cameroon. The unification took place on 1 October 1961. Thus was born the Federal Republic of Cameroon after the reunification of the two parties. On May 20, 1972, was organized a referendum in which Cameroon became a “United Republic” and by a presidential decree in 1984, the Republic of Cameroon.


Cameroon borders on many other countries: Nigeria, Chad, in the south-east the Central African Republic and in the south Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. The surface area of Cameroon is 475,440 square kilometres, which makes it approximately 14 times as big as the Netherlands.

Cameroon is sometimes called ‘Petit Afrique.’ This is because within the country nearly all conceivable African types of natural phenomena can be found: tropical rain forest in the south-east, mountains in the west, savannas in the middle and the Sahel desert in the north.


Cameroon has more than 240 tribes which are found in three main ethnic groups; Bantus, Semi-Bantus and Sudanese. The number of national languages spoken in the country is more than 240. The most notable tribes are:
BANTUS: Beti, Bassa, Bakundu, Maka, Douala, Pygmies
SEMI-BANTUS: Bamileke, Gbaya, Bamoun, Tikar
SUDANESE: Fulbe, Mafa, Toupouri, Shoa-Arabs, Moundang, Massa, Mousgoum

French and English are the official languages, which are spoken by 70% and 30% of the population respectively. Spanish and German are equally spoken by a few city-dwellers. Cameroon is a secular state. Two major religions have followers; Christianity and Islam. Animism is also widely practised.

Education and health

For many inhabitants health care in Cameroon is unaffordable. Social insurance does not exist, which is why traditional medicine still plays an important role. In most hospitals you have to pay before a doctor or nurse will give you a medical check-up. In Cameroon, too, the HIV/aids virus is rampant.

In comparison with other African countries, Cameroon does not do too badly in the field of education: in 2000 79% of the boys and 64% of the girls aged 15 could read and write.


They say of Cameroon it is Africa in miniature to reflect the diversity of its natural and cultural treasures. It’s true, since “Angola has oil, Mali’s cotton, the Ivory Coast cocoa … And we have all three Cameroon”.

The country has an extraordinary range of resources, both mineral, and forestry, most of which have yet to be exploited, although timber production is a major industry. Apart from oil, two other mineral based enterprises in operation are; a large cement plant at Douala, and a 39 year old aluminium smelter at Edea (between Douala, and Yaoundé). Despite known bauxite deposits in the billions of tonnes, most of the supplies for the smelter are shipped in from Guinea for now.

Finally, the country has a reasonable infrastructure.