Situated in the corner of the Gulf of Guinea, Cameroon was effectively a one-party state for 30 years. Multiparty elections, since 1992, regularly return that same party to power.
Geography: Over half the land is forested: equatorial rainforest in north, evergreen forest and wooded savanna in south. Mountains in the west.
Climate: South is equatorial, with plentiful rainfall, declining inland. Far north is beset by drought.
People and Society: Around 230 ethnic groups; no single group is dominant. The Bamileke is the largest, though it has never held political power. North–south tensions are diminished by the ethnic diversity. There is more rivalry between majority French and minority English-speakers.
The Economy: Oil reserves. Very diversified agricultural economy – timber, cocoa, bananas, coffee. Fuel smuggling from igeria undermines refinery profits. Corruption. Port for Chad and CAR.
Insight: Cameroon’s name derives from the Portuguese word camarões, after the shrimp fished by the early European explorers
Official Name: Republic of Cameroon
Date of Formation: 1960
Population: 19.5 million
Total Area: 183,567 sq. miles (475,400 sq. km)
Density: 109 people per sq. mile
Languages: Bamileke, Fang, Fulani, French*, English*
Religions: Catholic 35%, traditional beliefs 25%, Muslim 22%, Protestant 18%
Ethnic Mix: Highlanders 31%, other 39%, equatorial Bantu 19%, Kirdi 11%
Government: Presidential system
Currency: CFA franc = 100 centimes