Cameroon -- Geography--
Official Name:Republic of Cameroon
Capital City:Yaounde/904.000 population/
Languages:English, French and some african languages
Official Currency:Central African CFA franc (XAF)
Religions: 40% christs, 40% traditional religions and 20% muslems
Population: 18 549 550
Land Area: 475,442 sq.km
Landforms: Seaside valleis turning into hils and moutains in the heard of the countrey. Cameroon has a sea outlet of 364 km.
on the Guinea bay and Atlantic ocian.
Cameroon -- History --
The territory of present day Cameroon was first settled during the Neolithic. The longest continuous inhabitants are the Pygmy groups such as the Baka.The Sao culture arose around Lake Chad c. AD 500 and gave way to the Kanem and its successor state, the Bornu empire. Kingdoms, fondoms, and chiefdoms arose in the west.
Portuguese sailors reached the coast in 1472. They noted an abundance of prawns and crayfish in the Wouri River and named it Rio dos Camaroes, Portuguese for "River of Prawns", and the phrase from which Cameroon is derived. Over the following few centuries, European interests regularised trade with the coastal peoples, and Christian missionaries pushed inland. In the early 19th century, Modibo Adama led Fulani soldiers on a jihad in the north against non-Muslim and partially Muslim peoples and established the Adamawa Emirate. Settled peoples who fled the Fulani caused a major redistribution of population.
The German Empire claimed the territory as the colony of Kamerun in 1884 and began a steady push inland. They initiated projects to improve the colony's infrastructure, relying on a harsh system of forced labour. With the defeat of Germany in World War I, Kamerun became a League of Nations mandate territory and was split into French Cameroun and British Cameroons in 1919. The French carefully integrated the economy of Cameroun with that of France and improved the infrastructure with capital investments, skilled workers, and continued forced labour. The British administered their territory from neighbouring Nigeria. Natives complained that this made them a neglected "colony of a colony". Nigerian migrant workers flocked to Southern Cameroons, ending forced labour but angering indigenous peoples.The League of Nations mandates were converted into United Nations Trusteeships in 1946, and the question of independence became a pressing issue in French Cameroun. France outlawed the most radical political party, the Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC), on 13 July 1955. This prompted a long guerrilla war and the assassination of the party's leader, Ruben Um Nyobe.In British Cameroons, the question was whether to reunify with French Cameroun or join Nigeria.
Ahmadou Ahidjo arrives at Washington, D.C., in July 1982.
On 1 January 1960, French Cameroun gained independence from France under President Ahmadou Ahidjo, and on 1 October 1961, the formerly-British Southern Cameroons united with its neighbour to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. Ahidjo used the ongoing war with the UPC and fears of ethnic conflict to concentrate power in the presidency, continuing with this even after the suppression of the UPC in 1971.His political party, the Cameroon National Union (CNU), became the sole legal political party on 1 September 1966 and in 1972, the federal system of government was abolished in favour of a United Republic of Cameroon, headed from Yaounde. Ahidjo pursued an economic policy of planned liberalism, prioritising cash crops and petroleum exploitation. The government used oil money to create a national cash reserve, pay farmers, and finance major development projects; however, many initiatives failed when Ahidjo appointed unqualified allies to direct them.
Ahidjo stepped down on 4 November 1982 and left power to his constitutional successor, Paul Biya. However, Ahidjo remained in control of the CNU and tried to run the country from behind the scenes until Biya and his allies pressured him into resigning. Biya began his administration by moving toward a more democratic government, but a failed coup d'etat nudged him toward the leadership style of his predecessor. An economic crisis took effect in the mid-1980s to late 1990s as a result of international economic conditions, drought, falling petroleum prices, and years of corruption, mismanagement, and cronyism. Cameroon turned to foreign aid, cut government spending, and privatised industries. With the reintroduction of multi-party politics in December 1990, Anglophone pressure groups called for greater autonomy, with some advocating complete secession as the Republic of Ambazonia.In February 2008, Cameroon experienced its worse violence in 15 years when a transport union strike in Douala escalated into violent protests in 31 municipal areas
Cameroon -- Economy --
Cameroon's per-capita GDP (PPP) was estimated as US$2,421 in 2005, one of the ten highest in sub-Saharan Africa.Major export markets include France, Italy, South Korea, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Cameroon is part of the Bank of Central African States (of which it is the dominant economy) and the Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa (UDEAC). Its currency is the CFA franc. Red tape, high taxes, and endemic corruption have impeded growth of the private sector.Unemployment was estimated at 30% in 2001, and about 48% of the population was living below the poverty threshold in 2000.Since the late 1980s, Cameroon has been following programmes advocated by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reduce poverty, privatise industries, and increase economic growth.Tourism is a growing sector, particularly in the coastal area, around Mount Cameroon, and in the north.
Cameroon's natural resources are better suited to agriculture and forestry than to industry. An estimated 70% of the population farms, and agriculture comprised an estimated 45.2% of GDP in 2006.Most agriculture is done at the subsistence scale by local farmers using simple tools. They sell their surplus produce, and some maintain separate fields for commercial use. Urban centres are particularly reliant on peasant agriculture for their foodstuffs.Soils and climate on the coast encourage extensive commercial cultivation of bananas, cocoa, oil palms, rubber, and tea. Inland on the South Cameroon Plateau, cash crops include coffee, sugar, and tobacco. Coffee is a major cash crop in the western highlands, and in the north, natural conditions favour crops such as cotton, groundnuts, and rice. Reliance on agricultural exports makes Cameroon vulnerable to shifts in their prices.
Livestock are raised throughout the country. Fishing employs some 5,000 people and provides 20,000 tons of seafood each year.Bushmeat, long a staple food for rural Cameroonians, is today a delicacy in the country's urban centres. The commercial bushmeat trade has now surpassed deforestation as the main threat to wildlife in Cameroon.
The southern rainforest has vast timber reserves, estimated to cover 37% of Cameroon's total land area.However, large areas of the forest are difficult to reach. Logging, largely handled by foreign-owned firms, provides the government US$60 million a year, and laws mandate the safe and sustainable exploitation of timber. Nevertheless, in practice, the industry is one of the least regulated in Cameroon.
A bush taxi attempts to pass a stalled logging vehicle on the road between Abong-Mbang and Lomie, East Province.
Factory-based industry accounted for an estimated 16.1% of GDP in 2006.More than 75% of Cameroon's industrial strength is located in Douala and Bonaberi.Cameroon possesses substantial mineral resources, but these are not extensively mined. Petroleum exploitation has fallen since 1985, but this is still a substantial sector such that dips in prices have a strong effect on the economy.Rapids and waterfalls obstruct the southern rivers, but these sites offer opportunities for hydroelectric development and supply most of Cameroon's energy.The Sanaga River powers the largest hydroelectric station, located at Edea.The rest of Cameroon's energy comes from oil-powered thermal engines. Much of the country remains without reliable power supplies
Cameroon -- Culture --
Each of Cameroon's ethnic groups has its own unique cultural forms. Typical celebrations include births, deaths, plantings, harvests, and religious rituals. Seven national holidays are observed throughout the year, and movable holidays include the Christian holy days of Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, and Ascension; and the Muslim holy days of 'Id al-Fitr, 'Id al-Adha, and Eid Milad Nnabi.
Music and dance are an integral part of Cameroonian ceremonies, festivals, social gatherings, and storytelling.Traditional dances are highly choreographed and separate men and women or forbid participation by one sex altogether.The goals of dances range from pure entertainment to religious devotion. Traditionally, music is transmitted orally. In a typical performance, a chorus of singers echoes a soloist.Musical accompaniment may be as simple as clapping hands and stomping feet,but traditional instruments include bells worn by dancers, clappers, drums and talking drums, flutes, horns, rattles, scrapers, stringed instruments, whistles, and xylophones; the exact combination varies with ethnic group and region. Some performers sing complete songs by themselves, accompanied by a harplike instrument.
Popular music styles include ambasse bey of the coast, assiko of the Bassa, mangambeu of the Bangangte, and tsamassi of the Bamileke.Nigerian music has influenced Anglophone Cameroonian performers, and Prince Nico Mbarga's highlife hit "Sweet Mother" is the top-selling African record in history.The two most popular styles are makossa and bikutsi. Makossa developed in Douala and mixes folk music, highlife, soul, and Congo music. Performers such as Manu Dibango, Francis Bebey, Moni Bile, and Petit-Pays popularised the style worldwide in the 1970s and 1980s. Bikutsi originated as war music among the Ewondo. Artists such as Anne-Marie Nzie developed it into a popular dance music beginning in the 1940s, and performers such as Mama Ohandja and Les Tetes Brulees popularised it internationally during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
Cuisine varies by region, but a large, one-course, evening meal is common throughout the country. A typical dish is based on cocoyams, maize, manioc, millet, plantains, potatoes, rice, or yams, often pounded into dough-like fufu (cous-cous). This is served with a sauce, soup, or stew made from greens, groundnuts, palm oil, or other ingredients. Meat and fish are popular but expensive additions.Dishes are often quite hot, spiced with salt, red pepper, and Maggi.Water, palm wine, and millet beer are the traditional mealtime drinks, although beer, soda, and wine have gained popularity.Silverware is common, but food is traditionally manipulated with the right hand. Breakfast consists of leftovers or bread and fruit with coffee or tea. Snacks are popular, especially in larger towns where they may be bought from street vendors.
A woman weaves a basket near Lake Ossa, Littoral Province. Cameroonians practice such handicrafts throughout the country.
Traditional arts and crafts are practiced throughout the country for commercial, decorative, and religious purposes. Woodcarvings and sculptures are especially common.The high-quality clay of the western highlands is suitable for pottery and ceramics.Other crafts include basket weaving, beadworking, brass and bronze working, calabash carving and painting, embroidery, and leather working. Traditional housing styles make use of locally available materials and vary from temporary wood-and-leaf shelters of nomadic Mbororo to the rectangular mud-and-thatch homes of southern peoples. Dwellings made from materials such as cement and tin are increasingly common.
Cameroon faces Germany at Zentralstadion in Leipzig, 27 April 2003.
Cameroonian literature and film have concentrated on both European and African themes. Colonial-era writers such as Louis-Marie Pouka and Sankie Maimo were educated by European missionary societies and advocated assimilation into European culture as the means to bring Cameroon into the modern world.After World War II, writers such as Mongo Beti and Ferdinand Oyono analysed and criticised colonialism and rejected assimilation.Shortly after independence, filmmakers such as Jean-Paul Ngassa and Therese Sita-Bella explored similar themes.In the 1960s, Mongo Beti and other writers explored post-colonialism, problems of African development, and the recovery of African identity.Meanwhile, in the mid-1970s, filmmakers such as Jean-Pierre Dikongue Pipa and Daniel Kamwa dealt with the conflicts between traditional and post-colonial society. Literature and films during the next two decades concentrated more on wholly Cameroonian themes.
National policy strongly advocates sport in all forms. Traditional sports include canoe racing and wrestling, and several hundred runners participate in the 40 km (24.8 mi) Mount Cameroon Race of Hope each year.Cameroon is one of the few tropical countries to have competed in the Winter Olympics. However, sport in Cameroon is dominated by football (soccer). Amateur football clubs abound, organised along ethnic lines or under corporate sponsors. The Cameroon national football team has been one of the most successful in the world since its strong showing in the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Cameroon has won four African Cup of Nations titles and the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics
Cameroon -- Political system, law and government --
ÊThe President of Cameroon has broad, unilateral powers to create policy, administer government agencies, command the armed forces, negotiate and ratify treaties, and declare a state of emergency.The president appoints government officials at all levels, from the prime minister (considered the official head of government), to the provincial governors, divisional officers, and urban-council members in large cities. The president is selected by popular vote every seven years. In smaller municipalities, the public elects mayors and councilors. Corruption is rife at all levels of government. In 1997, Cameroon established anti-corruption bureaus in 29 ministries, but only 25% became operational,and in 2007, Transparency International placed Cameroon at number 138 on a list of 163 countries ranked from least to most corrupt.On 18 January 2006, Biya initiated an anti-corruption drive under the direction of the National Anti-Corruption Observatory.
A statue of a chief in Bana, West Province, shows the prestige afforded such rulers. The Cameroonian government recognises the power of traditional authorities provided their rulings do not contradict national law.
Cameroon's legal system is largely based on French civil law with common law influences.Although nominally independent, the judiciary falls under the authority of the executive's Ministry of Justice.The president appoints judges at all levels. The judiciary is officially divided into tribunals, the court of appeal, and the supreme court. The National Assembly elects the members of a nine-member High Court of Justice that judges high-ranking members of government in the event they are charged with high treason or harming national security.
Human rights organisations accuse police and military forces of mistreating and even torturing criminal suspects, ethnic minorities, homosexuals, and political activists.Prisons are overcrowded with little access to adequate food and medical facilities,and prisons run by traditional rulers in the north are charged with holding political opponents at the behest of the government.However, since the early 2000s, an increasing number of police and gendarmes have been prosecuted for improper conduct.
The National Assembly makes legislation. The body consists of 180 members who are elected for five-year terms and meet three times per year. Laws are passed on a majority vote. Rarely has the assembly changed or blocked legislation proposed by the president.The 1996 constitution establishes a second house of parliament, the 100-seat Senate, but this body has never been put into practice.The government recognises the authority of traditional chiefs, fons, and lamibe to govern at the local level and to resolve disputes as long as such rulings do not conflict with national law.
President Paul Biya's Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) was the only legal political party until December 1990. Numerous ethnic and regional political groups have since formed. The primary opposition is the Social Democratic Front (SDF), based largely in the Anglophone region of the country and headed by John Fru Ndi. Biya and his party have maintained control of the presidency and the National Assembly in national elections, but rivals contend that these have been unfair.Human rights organisations allege that the government suppresses the freedoms of opposition groups by preventing demonstrations, disrupting meetings, and arresting opposition leaders and journalists.Freedom House ranks Cameroon as "not free" in terms of political rights and civil liberties.The last parliamentary elections were held on 22 July 2007.
Cameroon is a member of both the Commonwealth of Nations and La Francophonie. Its foreign policy closely follows that of its main ally, France. The country relies heavily on France for its defence,although military spending is high in comparison to other sectors of government.Biya has clashed with the government of Nigeria over possession of the Bakassi peninsula and with Gabon's president, El Hadj Omar Bongo, over personal rivalries. Nevertheless, civil war presents a more credible threat to national security, as tensions between Christians and Muslims and between Anglophones and Francophones remain high.