[Country map of Cameroon]



Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria

Map references: Africa

total area: 475,440 sq km
land area: 469,440 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than California

Land boundaries: total 4,591 km, Central African Republic 797 km, Chad 1,094 km, Congo 523 km, Equatorial Guinea 189 km, Gabon 298 km, Nigeria 1,690 km

Coastline: 402 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 50 nm

International disputes: demarcation of international boundaries in Lake Chad, the lack of which led to border incidents in the past, is completed and awaits ratification by Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria; dispute with Nigeria over land and maritime boundaries in the vicinity of the Bakasi Peninsula has been referred to the International Court of Justice

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

Terrain: diverse, with coastal plain in southwest, dissected plateau in center, mountains in west, plains in north

Natural resources: petroleum, bauxite, iron ore, timber, hydropower potential

Land use:
arable land: 13%
permanent crops: 2%
meadows and pastures: 18%
forest and woodland: 54%
other: 13%

Irrigated land: 280 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: water-borne diseases are prevalent; deforestation; overgrazing; desertification; poaching; overfishing
natural hazards: recent volcanic activity with release of poisonous gases
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83; signed, but not ratified - Desertification, Nuclear Test Ban, Tropical Timber 94

Note: sometimes referred to as the hinge of Africa


Population: 13.521 million (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 44% (female 2,978,216; male 3,001,487)
15-64 years: 52% (female 3,562,247; male 3,523,100)
65 years and over: 4% (female 248,314; male 207,636) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.92% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 40.42 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 11.19 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 75.4 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 57.48 years
male: 55.41 years
female: 59.6 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.8 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Cameroonian(s)
adjective: Cameroonian

Ethnic divisions: Cameroon Highlanders 31%, Equatorial Bantu 19%, Kirdi 11%, Fulani 10%, Northwestern Bantu 8%, Eastern Nigritic 7%, other African 13%, non-African less than 1%

Religions: indigenous beliefs 51%, Christian 33%, Muslim 16%

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

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1987)
total population: 55%
male: 66%
female: 45%

Labor force: NA
by occupation: agriculture 74.4%, industry and transport 11.4%, other services 14.2% (1983)


conventional long form: Republic of Cameroon
conventional short form: Cameroon
former: French Cameroon

Digraph: CM

Type: unitary republic; multiparty presidential regime (opposition parties legalized 1990)

Capital: Yaounde

Administrative divisions: 10 provinces; Adamaoua, Centre, Est, Extreme-Nord, Littoral, Nord, Nord-Ouest, Ouest, Sud, Sud-Ouest

Independence: 1 January 1960 (from UN trusteeship under French administration)

National holiday: National Day, 20 May (1972)

Constitution: 20 May 1972

Legal system: based on French civil law system, with common law influence; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Paul BIYA (since 6 November 1982); election last held 11 October 1992; results - President Paul BIYA reelected with about 40% of the vote amid widespread allegations of fraud; SDF candidate John FRU NDI got 36% of the vote; UNDP candidate Bello Bouba MAIGARI got 19% of the vote
head of government: Prime Minister Simon ACHIDI ACHU (since 9 April 1992)
cabinet: Cabinet; appointed by the president

Legislative branch: unicameral
National Assembly (Assemblee Nationale): elections last held 1 March 1992 (next scheduled for March 1997); results - (180 seats) CPDM 88, UNDP 68, UPC 18, MDR 6

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM), Paul BIYA, president, is government-controlled and was formerly the only party, but opposition parties were legalized in 1990
major opposition parties: National Union for Democracy and Progress (UNDP); Social Democratic Front (SDF); Cameroonian Democratic Union (UDC); Union of Cameroonian Populations (UPC); Movement for the Defense of the Republic (MDR)

Other political or pressure groups: Alliance for Change (FAC), Cameroon Anglophone Movement (CAM)


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jerome MENDOUGA
chancery: 2349 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 265-8790 through 8794

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Harriet W. ISOM
embassy: Rue Nachtigal, Yaounde
mailing address: B. P. 817, Yaounde
telephone: [237] 23-40-14
FAX: [237] 23-07-53
consulate(s): none (Douala closed September 1993)

Flag: 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


Overview: Because of its offshore oil resources and favorable agricultural conditions, Cameroon has one of the best-endowed, most diversified primary commodity economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Still, it faces many of the serious problems facing other underdeveloped countries, such as political instability, a top-heavy civil service, and a generally unfavorable climate for business enterprise. The development of the oil sector led rapid economic growth between 1970 and 1985. Growth came to an abrupt halt in 1986, precipitated by steep declines in the prices of major exports: coffee, cocoa, and petroleum. Export earnings were cut by almost one-third, and inefficiencies in fiscal management were exposed. In 1990-93, with support from the IMF and World Bank, the government began to introduce reforms designed to spur business investment, increase efficiency in agriculture, and recapitalize the nation's banks. Political instability, following suspect elections in 1992, brought IMF/WB structural adjustment to a halt. Although the 50% devaluation of the currency in January 1994 improved the potential for export growth, mismanagement remains and is the main barrier to economic improvement.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $15.7 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: -2.9% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $1,200 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): -0.8% (FY91/92)

Unemployment rate: 25% (1990 est.)

revenues: $1.6 billion
expenditures: $2.3 billion, including capital expenditures of $226 million (FY92/93 est.)

Exports: $1.6 billion (f.o.b., 1993)
commodities: petroleum products, lumber, cocoa beans, aluminum, coffee, cotton
partners: EC (particularly France) about 40%, African countries, US

Imports: $1.96 billion (c.i.f., 1993)
commodities: machines and electrical equipment, food, consumer goods, transport equipment
partners: EC about 60% (France 38%, Germany 9%), African countries, Japan, US 5%

External debt: $6 billion (1991)

Industrial production: growth rate -2.1% (FY90/91); accounts for about 20% of GDP

capacity: 630,000 kW
production: 2.7 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 196 kWh (1993)

Industries: petroleum production and refining, food processing, light consumer goods, textiles, lumber

Agriculture: the agriculture and forestry sectors provide employment for the majority of the population, contributing about 25% to GDP and providing a high degree of self-sufficiency in staple foods; commercial and food crops include coffee, cocoa, timber, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, livestock, root starches

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-90), $479 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-90), $4.75 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $29 million; Communist countries (1970-89), $125 million

Currency: 1 CFA franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (CFAF) per US$1 - 529.43 (January 1995), 555.20 (1994), 283.16 (1993), 264.69 (1992), 282.11 (1991), 272.26 (1990)
note: beginning 12 January 1994, the CFA franc was devalued to CFAF 100 per French franc from CFAF 50 at which it had been fixed since 1948

Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June


total: 1,111 km
narrow gauge: 1,111 km 1.000-m gauge

total: 65,000 km
paved: 2,682 km
unpaved: gravel, improved earth 32,318 km; unimproved earth 30,000 km

Inland waterways: 2,090 km; of decreasing importance

Ports: Bonaberi, Douala, Garoua, Kribi, Tiko

Merchant marine:
total: 2 cargo ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 24,122 GRT/33,509 DWT

total: 60
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 2
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 1
with paved runways under 914 m: 20
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 9
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 21


Telephone system: 26,000 telephones; telephone density - 2 telephones/1,000 persons; available only to business and government
local: NA
intercity: cable, microwave radio relay, and troposcatter
international: 2 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth stations

broadcast stations: AM 11, FM 11, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 1
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy (includes Naval Infantry), Air Force, National Gendarmerie, Presidential Guard

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 3,038,007; males fit for military service 1,532,303; males reach military age (18) annually 147,293 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $102 million, NA% of GDP (1994)