Cameroon

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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 enabled 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

Location

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

Geographic coordinates

6.00° N, 12.00° E

Area 54/257

total: 475,440 sq km

land: 472,710 sq km

water: 2,730 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly larger than California

Land boundaries

total: 5,018 km

border countries (6): Central African Republic 901 km, Chad 1,116 km, Republic of the Congo 494 km, Equatorial Guinea 183 km, Gabon 349 km, Nigeria 1,975 km

Coastline

402 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

Climate

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

Terrain

diverse, with coastal plain in southwest, dissected plateau in center, mountains in west, plains in north

Elevation

mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

highest point: Fako 4,095 m (on Cameroon Mountain)

Natural resources

petroleum, bauxite, iron ore, timber, hydropower

Land use

agricultural land: 20.6%

arable land 13.1%; permanent crops 3.3%; permanent pasture 4.2%

forest: 41.7%

other: 37.7% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

290 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

285.5 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 0.97 cu km/yr (23%/10%/68%)

per capita: 58.9 cu m/yr (2005)

Natural hazards

volcanic activity with periodic releases of poisonous gases from Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun volcanoes

volcanism: Mt. Cameroon (elev. 4,095 m), which last erupted in 2000, is the most frequently active volcano in West Africa; lakes in Oku volcanic field have released fatal levels of gas on occasion, killing some 1,700 people in 1986

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 and Society

Nationality

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%

Languages

24 major African language groups, English (official), French (official)

Religions

indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim 20%

Population 53/238

23,739,218

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 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 42.78% (male 5,115,958/female 5,039,122)

15-24 years: 19.58% (male 2,337,061/female 2,310,178)

25-54 years: 30.53% (male 3,644,779/female 3,603,610)

55-64 years: 3.96% (male 458,001/female 481,717)

65 years and over: 3.15% (male 348,754/female 400,038) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 84.3%

youth dependency ratio: 78.4%

elderly dependency ratio: 5.9%

potential support ratio: 16.9% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 18.4 years

male: 18.3 years

female: 18.5 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 19/233

2.59% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 18/224

36.17 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 42/225

10.11 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 117/222

-0.15 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 54.4% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 3.6% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

YAOUNDE (capital) 3.066 million; Douala 2.943 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

19.7

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2011 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 10/184

596 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 29/224

total: 53.63 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 57.28 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 49.88 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 203/224

total population: 57.93 years

male: 56.62 years

female: 59.28 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 20/224

4.76 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

23.4% (2011)

Health expenditures 139/191

5.1% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

0.08 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density

1.3 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 94.8% of population

rural: 52.7% of population

total: 75.6% of population

unimproved:

urban: 5.2% of population

rural: 47.3% of population

total: 24.4% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 61.8% of population

rural: 26.8% of population

total: 45.8% of population

unimproved:

urban: 38.2% of population

rural: 73.2% of population

total: 54.2% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

4.77% (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

657,500 (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

34,200 (2014 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 130/191

9.6% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 47/138

15.1% (2011)

Education expenditures 133/173

3% of GDP (2012)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 10 years

male: 11 years

female: 10 years (2011)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 6.4%

male: 5.3%

female: 7.5% (2010 est.)

Government

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

etymology: in the 15th century, Portuguese explorers named the area around the mouth of the Wouri River the Rio dos Camaroes (River of Prawns) after the abundant shrimp in the water; over time the designation became Cameroon in English; this is the only instance where a country is named afer a crustacean

Government type

republic; multiparty presidential regime

Capital

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, East (Est), Far North (Extreme-Nord), Littoral, North (Nord), North-West (Nord-Ouest), West (Ouest), South (Sud), South-West (Sud-Ouest)

Independence

1 January 1960 (from French-administered UN trusteeship)

National holiday

State Unification Day (National Day), 20 May (1972)

Constitution

several previous; latest effective 18 January 1996; amended 2008 (2015)

Legal system

mixed legal system of English common law, French civil law, and customary law

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Cameroon

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

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 proposed by the prime minister, appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 7-year term (no term limits); election last held on 9 October 2011 (next to be held in October 2018); prime minister appointed by the president

election results: Paul BIYA reelected president; percent of vote - Paul BIYA (CPDM) 78.0%, John FRU NDI (SDF) 10.7%, Garga Haman ADJI 3.2%, other 8.1%

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of the Senate or Senat (100 seats; 70 members indirectly elected by regional councils and 30 appointed by the president; members serve 5-year terms) and the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (180 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms); note - the 100-member Senate was formed at the time of the April 2013 election

elections: Senate last held on 14 April 2013 (next to be held in 2018); National Assembly last held on 30 September 2013 (next to be held in 2018)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CPDM 56, SDF 14; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - CPDM 73.1%, SDF 17.6%, UNDP 6.1%, UDC 2.5%, other 0.7%; seats by party - CPDM 148, SDF 18, UNDP 5, UDC 4, UPC 3, other 2

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court of Cameroon (consists of 9 titular and 6 surrogate judges and organized into judicial, administrative, and audit chambers); Constitutional Council (consists of 11 members)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointed by the president with the advice of the Higher Judicial Council of Cameroon, a body chaired by the president and includes the minister of justice, selected magistrates, and representatives of the National Assembly; judge term NA; Constitutional Council members appointed by the president for single 9-year terms

subordinate courts: Parliamentary Court of Justice (jurisdiction limited to cases involving the president and prime minister); appellate and first instance courts; circuit and magistrate's courts

Political parties and leaders

Cameroon People's Democratic Movement or CPDM [Paul BIYA]

Cameroon People's Party or CPP [Edith Kah WALLA]

Cameroon Renaissance Movement or MRC [Maurice KAMTO]

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 [Jean-Jacques EKINDI]

Social Democratic Front or SDF [John FRU NDI]

Union of Peoples of Cameroon or UPC [Provisionary Management Bureau]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Network of Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa or REDHAC [Maximilliene Ngo MBE]

Tribunal 53 [Patrice NGANANG]

International organization participation

ACP, AfDB, AU, BDEAC, C, CEMAC, EITI (compliant country), FAO, FZ, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MONUSCO, NAM, OIC, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

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

National symbol(s)

lion; national colors: green, red, yellow

National anthem

name: "O Cameroun, Berceau de nos Ancetres" (O Cameroon, Cradle of Our Forefathers)

lyrics/music: Rene Djam AFAME, Samuel Minkio BAMBA, Moise Nyatte NKO'O [French], Benard Nsokika FONLON [English]/Rene Djam AFAME

note: adopted 1957; Cameroon's anthem, also known as "Chant de Ralliement" (The Rallying Song), has been used unofficially since 1948 and officially adopted in 1957; the anthem has French and English versions whose lyrics differ

Economy

Economy - overview

Modest oil resources and favorable agricultural conditions provide Cameroon with one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Oil remains Cameroon’s main export commodity, and despite falling global oil prices, still accounts for nearly 40% of export earnings. Cameroon’s economy suffers from factors that often impact underdeveloped countries, such as stagnant per capita income, a relatively inequitable distribution of income, a top-heavy civil service, endemic corruption, continuing inefficiencies of a large parastatal system in key sectors, 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 continues to press for economic reforms, including increased budget transparency, privatization, and poverty reduction programs. The Government of Cameroon provides subsidies for electricity, food, and fuel that have strained the federal budget and diverted funds from education, healthcare, and infrastructure projects, especially in 2015, as low oil prices have led to lower revenues.

Cameroon devotes significant resources to several large infrastructure projects under construction, including a deep sea port in Kribi and the Lom Pangar Hydropower Project. Cameroon’s energy sector continues to diversify, recently opening a natural gas powered electricity generating plant. Cameroon continues to seek foreign investment to improve its inadequate infrastructure, create jobs and improve its economic footprint but its unfavorable business environment remains a significant deterrent to foreign investment.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 96/230

$72.11 billion (2015 est.)

$68.45 billion (2014 est.)

$64.78 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$28.52 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 35/225

5.3% (2015 est.)

5.7% (2014 est.)

5.6% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 187/230

$3,200 (2015 est.)

$3,000 (2014 est.)

$2,900 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 99/179

17.6% of GDP (2015 est.)

17.8% of GDP (2014 est.)

17.8% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 77.9%

government consumption: 11.3%

investment in fixed capital: 20.4%

investment in inventories: 0%

exports of goods and services: 16%

imports of goods and services: -25.6%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 22.3%

industry: 29.9%

services: 47.9% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, cassava (manioc, tapioca); livestock; timber

Industries

petroleum production and refining, aluminum production, food processing, light consumer goods, textiles, lumber, ship repair

Industrial production growth rate 58/202

4% (2015 est.)

Labor force 53/233

9.332 million (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 70%

industry: 13%

services: 17% (2001 est.)

Unemployment rate 188/207

30% (2001 est.)

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 44/144

44.6 (2001)

47.7 (1996)

Budget

revenues: $4.035 billion

expenditures: $5.404 billion (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 200/219

14.1% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 168/220

-4.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 139/176

31.7% of GDP (2015 est.)

23.7% of GDP (2014 est.)

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 111/226

2% (2015 est.)

1.8% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 89/156

4.25% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 55/184

13% (31 December 2015 est.)

13% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 115/192

$3.239 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$3.65 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 129/193

$5.53 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$6.217 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 132/191

$2.691 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$3.127 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares 116/121

$230 million (31 December 2012 est.)

Current account balance 131/197

-$1.439 billion (2015 est.)

-$1.455 billion (2014 est.)

Exports 108/224

$5.283 billion (2015 est.)

$6.027 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

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

Exports - partners

Spain 13.9%, China 12%, India 10.1%, Italy 8.1%, Netherlands 8%, Belgium 5.1%, France 4.6%, Norway 4.5%, UK 4.3% (2014)

Imports 118/223

$6.159 billion (2015 est.)

$6.483 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery, electrical equipment, transport equipment, fuel, food

Imports - partners

China 26.2%, Nigeria 12%, France 11.8%, Belgium 4.9%, US 4.2% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 114/170

$2.51 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$3.122 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 127/206

$5.784 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$4.922 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Exchange rates

Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale francs (XAF) per dollar -

580.5 (2015 est.)

494.42 (2014 est.)

494.42 (2013 est.)

510.53 (2012 est.)

471.87 (2011 est.)

Energy

Electricity - production 114/220

6.155 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 112/219

5.535 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 123/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 133/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 123/214

1.009 million kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 184/214

28.5% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 69/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 21/214

71.5% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 169/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 49/214

80,830 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 45/214

52,060 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 60/214

31,960 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 59/215

200 million bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 82/214

42,780 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 107/212

38,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 87/214

10,150 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 152/213

6,061 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 73/216

346 million cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 102/215

346 million cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 80/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 179/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 49/212

135.1 billion cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 121/212

6.224 million Mt (2012 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines 76/219

total subscriptions: 1.05 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 5 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 61/217

total: 17.3 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 75 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: system includes cable, microwave radio relay, and tropospheric scatter; Camtel, the monopoly provider of fixed-line service, provides connections for only about 3 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 50 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) (2011)

Broadcast media

government maintains tight control over broadcast media; state-owned Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), broadcasting on both a TV and radio network, was the only officially recognized and fully licensed broadcaster until August 2007, when the government finally issued licenses to 2 private TV broadcasters and 1 private radio broadcaster; about 70 privately owned, unlicensed radio stations operating but are subject to closure at any time; foreign news services required to partner with state-owned national station (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 2, FM 9, shortwave 3 (2001)

Television broadcast stations

1 (2001)

Internet country code

.cm

Internet hosts 134/232

10,207 (2012)

Internet users 108/217

total: 1.5 million

percent of population: 6.5% (2014 est.)

Transportation

Airports 112/236

33 (2013)

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 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 22

1,524 to 2,437 m: 4

914 to 1,523 m: 10

under 914 m: 8 (2013)

Pipelines

gas 53 km; liquid petroleum gas 5 km; oil 1,107 km; water 35 km (2013)

Railways 82/136

total: 987 km

narrow gauge: 987 km 1.000-m gauge

note: railway connections generally efficient but limited; rail lines connect major cities of Douala, Yaounde, Ngaoundere, and Garoua; passenger and freight service provided by CAMRAIL (2014)

Roadways 76/223

total: 51,350 km

paved: 4,108 km

unpaved: 47,242 km

note: there are 28,857 km of national roads (2011)

Waterways

(major rivers in the south, such as the Wouri and the Sanaga, are largely non-navigable; in the north, the Benue, which connects through Nigeria to the Niger River, is navigable in the rainy season only to the port of Garoua) (2010)

Ports and terminals

river port(s): Douala (Wouri); Garoua (Benoue)

oil terminal(s): Limboh Terminal

Military and Security

Military branches

Cameroon Armed Forces (Forces Armees Camerounaises, FAC), Army (L'Armee de Terre), Navy (Marine Nationale Republique (MNR), includes naval infantry), Air Force (Armee de l'Air du Cameroun, AAC), Rapid Intervention Brigade (Brigade d'Intervention Rapide, BIR, main counterterrorism force, consists of three battalions), Fire Fighter Corps, Gendarmerie (2015)

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; periodic government calls for volunteers (2012)

Military expenditures 70/132

1.42% of GDP (2012)

1.37% of GDP (2011)

1.42% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

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 agreed 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): 267,148 (Central African Republic); 70,809 (Nigeria) (2016)

IDPs: 158,000 (2016)