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Cameroon, republic in West Africa. Cameroon is bordered by the Gulf of Guinea (west and southwest), Nigeria (northwest), Chad (northeast), the Central African Republic (east), and the Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea (south).

Land and climate

The narrow coastal plain of swamps and dense jungle rises to a plateau of savanna and forest some 2,000 ft (610 m) above sea level. The country's highest peak is the volcanic Great Cameroon (13,354 ft/4,070 m). The interior plateau covers about two-thirds of the country. The coast is tropical, the north, near Lake Chad, is semiarid. The central region receives about 30–40 in (76–102 cm) of rainfall annually. The country's capital is Yaoundé.


Cameroon's population consists of some 150 different tribes and ethnic groups. The official languages are English and French. Most of the people are Christian, but sizable minorities follow traditional African beliefs or the Islam.


The economy is based mainly on agriculture and forestry. Cameroon is mostly self-sufficient in food and exports coffee, cocoa, and timber as well as bananas, rubber, and aluminum. Aluminum smelting is Cameroon's largest industry.


The Sao people, who produced a distinctive kind of art and cast objects in bronze, settled near Lake Chad about 900 A.D.The Portuguese came in 1472 and established the slave trade. In 1884, Germany established a protectorate in the Cameroon area. British and French troops occupied the area in World War I and afterwards the League of Nations mandated the larger part (Cameroun) to France and the remainder (Southern and Northern Cameroons) to the British. In 1946 they became UN trust territories. In 1960, Cameroun became an independent republic after several years of guerrilla warfare. After plebiscites in 1961, the Northern Cameroons joined Nigeria, and the Southern Camerouns joined Cameroun to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. In 1972, the federal system was replaced by a unified republic. In 1980, Ahmadou Ahidjo, president since independence, was reelected. President Paul Biya was elected unopposed in 1984 for his first full 5-year term and was reelected in 1988 and 1992. In the late 1990s the burden of debt increased as a result of the fact that prices plummeted at the world market.


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