The Republic of Cameroon is a unitary republic of central and western Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the Bight of Bonny, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. The country is called "Africa in miniature" for its geological and cultural diversity.

Background History

French Cameroon became independent in 1960 as the Republic of Cameroon. The following year the southern portion of neighboring British Cameroon voted to merge with the new country to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. In 1972, a new constitution replaced the federation with a unitary state, the United Republic of Cameroon. The country 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.



Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of Cameroon
  • conventional short form: Cameroon
  • local long form: Republique du Cameroun
  • local short form: Cameroun
  • former: French Cameroon, British Cameroon, Federal Republic of Cameroon, United Republic of Cameroon


  • name: Yaounde
  • geographic coordinates: 3 52 N, 11 31 E
  • time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 1 January 1960 (from French-administered UN trusteeship)

Government Type:

  • republic; multiparty presidential regime

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
  • elections:president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (with no term limits per 2008 constitutional amendment); election last held on 9 October 2011 (next to be held in October 2018); prime minister appointed by the president

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral National Assembly

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court


People & Society


  • 23,130,708 (global rank: 54)
  • growth rate: 2.6% (global rank: 26)


  • noun: Cameroonian(s)
  • adjective: Cameroonian

Major Cities:

  • Douala: 2.449 million; Yaounde (capital): 2.432 million

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)

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 57.35 years (global rank: 202)
  • male: 56.09 years
  • female: 58.65 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 55.1 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 31)
  • male: 58.78 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 51.31 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 4.27% (2013 est.) (global rank: 14)
  • people living with AIDS: 603,800 (2013 est.) (global rank: 15)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 71.3%
  • male: 78.3%
  • female: 64.8%



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 confronting other underdeveloped countries, such as stagnant per capita income, a relatively inequitable distribution of income, a top-heavy civil service, endemic corruption, and a generally unfavorable climate for business enterprise. 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. Subsidies for electricity, food, and fuel have strained the budget. Cameroon has several large infrastructure projects under construction, including a deep sea port in Kribi and the Lom Pangar Hydropower Project. It also recently opened a natural gas powered electricity generating plant. Cameroon must attract more investment to improve its inadequate infrastructure, but its business environment is a deterrent to foreign investment.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $67.23 billion (global rank: 96)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $3,000 (global rank: 189)
  • real growth rate: 5.1% (global rank: 52)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 19.9%, industry: 27.6%, services: 52.5%


  • currency: Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale Francs
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 491.2


  • population below poverty line: 48%
  • unemployment rate: 30%

Agricultural 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

Exports Commodities:

  • crude oil and petroleum products, lumber, cocoa beans, aluminum, coffee, cotton

Imports Commodities:

  • machinery, electrical equipment, transport equipment, fuel, food




  • Central Africa, bordering the Bight of Biafra, between Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria


  • total: 475,440 sq km (global rank: 54)
  • land: 472,710 sq km
  • water: 2,730 sq km
  • comparative: slightly larger than California


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

Land Use:

  • arable land: 13.12%
  • permanent crops: 3.28%
  • other: 83.61%

Natural Resources:

  • petroleum, bauxite, iron ore, timber, hydropower

Current Environmental Issues:

  • waterborne diseases are prevalent; deforestation; overgrazing; desertification; poaching; overfishing


Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: 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 (country of origin): 245,300 (Central African Republic); 42,183 (Nigeria)
  • internally displaced peoples: 117,700

Published: Wednesday, May 20, 2015