Africa :: Cameroon
page last updated on August 3, 2010
Flag of Cameroon
Map of Cameroon
Introduction ::Cameroon
The former French Cameroon and part of British Cameroon merged in 1961 to form the present country. Cameroon has generally enjoyed stability, which has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, and railways, as well as a petroleum industry. Despite slow movement toward democratic reform, political power remains firmly in the hands of President Paul BIYA.
Geography ::Cameroon
Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Biafra, between Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria
Geographic coordinates:
6 00 N, 12 00 E
Map references:
total: 475,440 sq km
country comparison to the world: 53
land: 472,710 sq km
water: 2,730 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than California
Land boundaries:
total: 4,591 km
border countries: Central African Republic 797 km, Chad 1,094 km, Republic of the Congo 523 km, Equatorial Guinea 189 km, Gabon 298 km, Nigeria 1,690 km
402 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
Current Weather
varies with terrain, from tropical along coast to semiarid and hot in north
diverse, with coastal plain in southwest, dissected plateau in center, mountains in west, plains in north
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Fako 4,095 m (on Mt. Cameroon)
Natural resources:
petroleum, bauxite, iron ore, timber, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 12.54%
permanent crops: 2.52%
other: 84.94% (2005)
Irrigated land:
260 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
285.5 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.99 cu km/yr (18%/8%/74%)
per capita: 61 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:
volcanic activity with periodic releases of poisonous gases from Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun volcanoes
Environment - current issues:
waterborne diseases are prevalent; deforestation; overgrazing; desertification; poaching; overfishing
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
sometimes referred to as the hinge of Africa; throughout the country there are areas of thermal springs and indications of current or prior volcanic activity; Mount Cameroon, the highest mountain in Sub-Saharan west Africa, is an active volcano
People ::Cameroon
country comparison to the world: 58
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2010 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 40.7% (male 3,959,785/female 3,889,947)
15-64 years: 56% (male 5,430,743/female 5,377,421)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 291,979/female 344,274) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 19.3 years
male: 19.2 years
female: 19.4 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.157% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
Birth rate:
33.58 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37
Death rate:
12.01 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 31
Net migration rate:
urban population: 57% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 3.5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 62.15 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 33
male: 66.8 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 57.36 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 54.04 years
country comparison to the world: 202
male: 53.21 years
female: 54.9 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
4.25 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
5.1% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 15
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
540,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
39,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
animal contact disease: rabies (2009)
noun: Cameroonian(s)
adjective: Cameroonian
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%
indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim 20%
24 major African language groups, English (official), French (official)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 67.9%
male: 77%
female: 59.8% (2001 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 9 years
male: 10 years
female: 8 years (2006)
Education expenditures:
3.3% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 135
Government ::Cameroon
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Cameroon
conventional short form: Cameroon
local long form: Republique du Cameroun/Republic of Cameroon
local short form: Cameroun/Cameroon
former: French Cameroon, British Cameroon, Federal Republic of Cameroon, United Republic of Cameroon
Government type:
republic; multiparty presidential regime
name: Yaounde
geographic coordinates: 3 52 N, 11 31 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
10 regions (regions, singular - region); Adamaoua, Centre, Est, Extreme-Nord, Littoral, Nord, North-West (Nord-Ouest), Ouest, Sud, South-West (Sud-Ouest)
1 January 1960 (from French-administered UN trusteeship)
National holiday:
Republic Day (National Day), 20 May (1972)
approved by referendum 20 May 1972; adopted 2 June 1972; revised January 1996
Legal system:
based on French civil law system with common law influence; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
20 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Paul BIYA (since 6 November 1982)
head of government: Prime Minister Philemon YANG (since 30 June 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president from proposals submitted by the prime minister
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elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 11 October 2004 (next to be held by October 2011); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: President Paul BIYA reelected; percent of vote - Paul BIYA 70.9%, John FRU NDI 17.4%, Adamou Ndam NJOYA 4.5%, Garga Haman ADJI 3.7%
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (180 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms); note - the president can either lengthen or shorten the term of the legislature
elections: last held on 22 July 2007 (next to be held in 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CPDM 140, SDF 14, UDC 4, UNDP 4, MP 1, vacant 17
note: the constitution calls for an upper chamber for the legislature, to be called a Senate, but it has yet to be established
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president); High Court of Justice (consists of nine judges and six substitute judges; elected by the National Assembly)
Political parties and leaders:
Cameroon People's Democratic Movement or CPDM [Paul BIYA]; Cameroonian Democratic Union or UDC [Adamou Ndam NJOYA]; Movement for the Defense of the Republic or MDR [Dakole DAISSALA]; Movement for the Liberation and Development of Cameroon or MLDC [Marcel YONDO]; National Union for Democracy and Progress or UNDP [Maigari BELLO BOUBA]; Progressive Movement or MP; Social Democratic Front or SDF [John FRU NDI]; Union of Peoples of Cameroon or UPC [Augustin Frederic KODOCK]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Human Rights Defense Group [Albert MUKONG, president]; Southern Cameroon National Council [Ayamba Ette OTUN]
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Joseph FOE-ATANGANA
chancery: 2349 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 265-8790
FAX: [1] (202) 387-3826
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Janet E. GARVEY
embassy: Avenue Rosa Parks, Yaounde
mailing address: P. O. Box 817, Yaounde; pouch: American Embassy, US Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-2520
telephone: [237] 2220 15 00; Consular: [237] 2220 16 03
FAX: [237] 2220 16 00 Ext. 4531; Consular FAX: [237] 2220 17 52
branch office(s): Douala
Flag description:
three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), red, and yellow, with a yellow five-pointed star centered in the red band; the vertical tricolor recalls the flag of France; red symbolizes unity, yellow the sun, happiness, and the savannahs in the north, and green hope and the forests in the south; the star is referred to as the "star of unity"
note: uses the popular Pan-African colors of Ethiopia
Economy ::Cameroon
Economy - overview:
Because of its modest oil resources and favorable agricultural conditions, Cameroon has one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Still, it faces many of the serious problems facing other underdeveloped countries, such as stagnating per capita income, a relatively inequitable distribution of income, a top-heavy civil service, and a generally unfavorable climate for business enterprise. International oil and cocoa prices have a significant impact on the economy. Since 1990, the government has embarked on various IMF and World Bank programs designed to spur business investment, increase efficiency in agriculture, improve trade, and recapitalize the nation's banks. The IMF is pressing for more reforms, including increased budget transparency, privatization, and poverty reduction programs.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$42.76 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 95
$43.19 billion (2008 est.)
$41.81 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$22.08 billion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 124
3.3% (2008 est.)
3.5% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$2,300 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 180
$2,300 (2008 est.)
$2,300 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 20.3%
industry: 30.5%
services: 49.2% (2009 est.)
Labor force:
7.283 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 61
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 70%
industry: 13%
services: 17% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
30% (2001 est.)
country comparison to the world: 176
Population below poverty line:
48% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 35.4% (2001)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
44.6 (2001)
country comparison to the world: 43
47.7 (1996)
Investment (gross fixed):
18.2% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 110
revenues: $4.014 billion
expenditures: $4.128 billion (2009 est.)
Public debt:
14.9% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
14.2% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 72
5.3% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
4.75% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 85
5.25% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
NA% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 46
15% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money:
$2.881 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 84
$2.616 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money:
$1.756 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 103
$1.698 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
$NA (31 December 2008)
$1.3 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
Agriculture - products:
coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, root starches; livestock; timber
petroleum production and refining, aluminum production, food processing, light consumer goods, textiles, lumber, ship repair
Industrial production growth rate:
-3.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
Electricity - production:
5.601 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 108
Electricity - consumption:
4.801 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 108
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production:
77,310 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55
Oil - consumption:
26,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
Oil - exports:
107,100 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 66
Oil - imports:
45,520 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
Oil - proved reserves:
200 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56
Natural gas - production:
20 million cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 88
Natural gas - consumption:
20 million cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 196
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 196
Natural gas - proved reserves:
135.1 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49
Current account balance:
-$1.18 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 133
-$509.9 million (2008 est.)
$3.587 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 116
$5.942 billion (2008 est.)
Exports - commodities:
crude oil and petroleum products, lumber, cocoa beans, aluminum, coffee, cotton
Exports - partners:
Netherlands 13.99%, Spain 12.25%, Italy 11.84%, China 9.14%, US 6.16%, France 5.51%, South Korea 4.66%, Belgium 4.33%, UK 4% (2009)
$4.449 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 116
$5.4 billion (2008 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery, electrical equipment, transport equipment, fuel, food
Imports - partners:
France 21.03%, Nigeria 10.79%, China 10.25%, Belgium 6.62%, US 4.31% (2009)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$3.917 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 88
$3.091 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt - external:
$2.929 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 124
$3.066 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Exchange rates:
Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale francs (XAF) per US dollar - 481.35 (2009), 447.81 (2008), 493.51 (2007), 522.59 (2006), 527.47 (2005)
note: since 1 January 1999, the Central African CFA franc (XAF) has been pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 CFA francs per euro; Central African CFA franc (XAF) coins and banknotes are not accepted in countries using West African CFA francs (XOF), and vice versa, even though the two currencies trade at par
Communications ::Cameroon
Telephones - main lines in use:
198,300 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 124
Telephones - mobile cellular:
6.161 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 79
Telephone system:
general assessment: system includes cable, microwave radio relay, and tropospheric scatter; Camtel, the monopoly provider of fixed-line service, provides connections for fewer than 1 per 100 persons; equipment is old and outdated, and connections with many parts of the country are unreliable
domestic: mobile-cellular usage, in part a reflection of the poor condition and general inadequacy of the fixed-line network, has increased sharply, reaching a subscribership base of 33 per 100 persons
international: country code - 237; landing point for the SAT-3/WASC fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and Asia; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2008)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 2, FM 9, shortwave 3 (2001)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (2001)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
70 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 204
Internet users:
725,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 99
Transportation ::Cameroon
36 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 106
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 11
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 25
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 16
under 914 m: 6 (2009)
oil 889 km (2009)
total: 987 km
country comparison to the world: 90
narrow gauge: 987 km 1.000-m gauge (2008)
total: 50,000 km
country comparison to the world: 81
paved: 5,000 km
unpaved: 45,000 km (2004)
navigation mainly on Benue River; limited during rainy season (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Douala, Limboh Terminal
Military ::Cameroon
Military branches:
Cameroon Armed Forces (Forces Armees Camerounaises, FAC): Army (L'Armee de Terre), Navy (includes naval infantry), Air Force (Armee de l'Air du Cameroun, AAC), Fire Fighter Corps, Gendarmerie (2010)
Military service age and obligation:
18-23 years of age for male and female voluntary military service; no conscription; high school graduation required; service obligation 4 years; the government makes periodic calls for volunteers (2010)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 4,553,576
females age 16-49: 4,443,217 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 2,721,307
females age 16-49: 2,647,640 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 213,538
female: 209,549 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
1.3% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 113
Transnational Issues ::Cameroon
Disputes - international:
Joint Border Commission with Nigeria reviewed 2002 ICJ ruling on the entire boundary and bilaterally resolved differences, including June 2006 Greentree Agreement that immediately ceded sovereignty of the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon with a full phase-out of Nigerian control and patriation of residents in 2008; Cameroon and Nigeria agree on maritime delimitation in March 2008; sovereignty dispute between Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon over an island at the mouth of the Ntem River; only Nigeria and Cameroon have heeded the Lake Chad Commission's admonition to ratify the delimitation treaty, which also includes the Chad-Niger and Niger-Nigeria boundaries
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 20,000-30,000 (Chad); 3,000 (Nigeria); 24,000 (Central African Republic) (2007)
Trafficking in persons:
current situation: Cameroon is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation; most victims are children trafficked within country, with girls primarily trafficked for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation; both boys and girls are also trafficked within Cameroon for forced labor in sweatshops, bars, restaurants, and on tea and cocoa plantations; children are trafficked into Cameroon from neighboring states for forced labor in agriculture, fishing, street vending, and spare-parts shops; Cameroon is a transit country for children trafficked between Gabon and Nigeria, and from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia; it is a source country for women transported by sex-trafficking rings to Europe
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Cameroon is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat human trafficking in 2007, particularly in terms of efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders; while Cameroon reported some arrests of traffickers, none of them were prosecuted or punished; the government does not identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations nor does it monitor the number of victims it intercepts (2008)

Source: The World Factbook (CIA)