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Republic of Cameroon
Emblem of Cameroon
MottoPeace - Work - Fatherland
AnthemO Cameroon, Cradle of our Forefathers
(Template:Lang-fr) <ref>These are the titles as given in the Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon, Article X. The French version of the song is sometimes called "Chant de Ralliement", as in National Anthems of the World, and the English version "O Cameroon, Cradle of Our Forefathers", as in DeLancey and DeLancey X.</ref>

Largest city Douala
Official languages French, English
Government Republic
 -  President Paul Biya
 -  Prime Minister Ephraïm Inoni
Independence from France and the UK 
 -  Date 1 January 1960 
 -  Water (%) 1.3
 -  July 2005 estimate 16,323,000 (58th)
 -  2003 census 15,746,179 
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 -  Total $43.196 billion (84th)
 -  Per capita $2,421 (130th)
HDI (2006) 0.506 (medium) (144th)
Currency CFA franc (XAF)
Time zone WAT Template:Nowrap
 -  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+1)
Internet TLD .cm
Calling code 237

The Republic of Cameroon is a unitary republic of central and western Africa. It borders 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 Bight of Bonny, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. The country is often called "Africa in miniature" for its geological and cultural diversity. Natural features include beaches, deserts, mountains, rainforests, and savannas. The highest point is Mount Cameroon in the southwest, and the largest cities are Douala, Yaoundé, and Garoua. Cameroon is home to over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups. The country is well-known for its native styles of music, particularly makossa and bikutsi, and for its successful national football team. English and French are the official languages.

Early inhabitants of the territory included the Sao civilisation around Lake Chad and the Baka hunter-gatherers in the southeastern rainforest. Portuguese explorers reached the coast in the 15th century and named the area Rio dos Camarões (River of Prawns), the name from which Cameroon derives. Fulani soldiers founded the Adamawa Emirate in the north in the 19th century, and various ethnic groups of the west and northwest established powerful chiefdoms and fondoms. Cameroon became a German colony in 1884. After World War I, the territory was split between France and Great Britain as League of Nations mandates. The Union des Populations du Cameroun political party advocated independence but was outlawed in the 1950s. It waged war on French and Cameroonian forces until 1971. In 1960, French Cameroun became independent as the Republic of Cameroun under President Ahmadou Ahidjo. The southern part of British Cameroons merged with it in 1961 to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. It was renamed the United Republic of Cameroon in 1972 and the Republic of Cameroon in 1984.

Compared to other African countries, Cameroon enjoys relative political and social stability. This has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, railways, and large petroleum and timber industries. Nevertheless, large numbers of Cameroonians live in poverty as subsistence farmers. Power lies firmly in the hands of the president, Paul Biya, and his Cameroon People's Democratic Movement party. The Anglophone community has grown increasingly alienated from the government, and Anglophone politicians have called for greater decentralisation or even secession of the former British-governed territories.


Main article: History of Cameroon

Pre-colonial period

Joseph Merrick, a Jamaican Baptist missionary, at an Isubu funeral in 1845

Archaeological finds show that humankind has inhabited Cameroonian territory since the Neolithic. The longest continuous inhabitants are probably the Pygmy groups such as the Baka. The Sao culture arose around Lake Chad c. AD 500<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 2.</ref> and gave way to the Kanem-Bornu Empire. Kingdoms, fondoms, and chiefdoms arose in the west, including those of the Bamileke, Bamum, and Tikar.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 3.</ref>

Portuguese sailors reached the coast in 1472. They noted an abundance of prawns and crayfish in the Wouri River and named it Template:Lang, Portuguese for River of Prawns, and the phrase from which Cameroon is derived.<ref>Fanso 90.</ref> Over the next few centuries, European interests regularised trade with the coastal peoples. Meanwhile, Christian missionaries established operations and gradually moved inland.

In the early 19th century, Modibo Adama led Fulani soldiers on a jihad in the north against the non-Muslim peoples (Kirdi) and those Muslims who still practiced aspects of paganism. Adama established the Adamawa Emirate, a vassal to the Sokoto Caliphate of Usman dan Fodio.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 13.</ref> Ethnic groups who fled the Fulani warriors displaced others, resulting in a major redistribution of population.<ref>Fanso 84.</ref>

Colonial period

A German outpost. Karl Atangana, German-appointed paramount chief of the Ewondo and Bane peoples, is pictured center right.

The German Empire claimed the territory as the colony of Kamerun in 1884.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 3–4.</ref> They moved inland, breaking trade monopolies held by coastal peoples such as the Duala and steadily expanded their control. The Germans established plantations in the forested south, especially along the coast.<ref name="DeLancey 4">DeLancey and DeLancey 4.</ref> They made substantial investments in the colony's infrastructure, including the building of railways, roads, and hospitals. However, the indigenous peoples were reluctant to work on these projects, so the government instigated a harsh system of forced labour.<ref name="DeLancey 125">DeLancey and DeLancey 125.</ref> With the defeat of Germany in World War I, Kamerun became a League of Nations mandate territory and was split into French Template:Lang and British Cameroons in 1919.<ref name="DeLancey 4"/> Neukamerun, territories acquired by Germany in 1911, became part of French Equatorial Africa.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 200.</ref>

France improved the infrastructure of its territory with capital investments, a supply of skilled workers, and continued forced labour.<ref name="DeLancey 125"/> French Cameroun eventually surpassed its British counterpart in gross national product, education, and health care services. Nevertheless, these developments were largely relegated to Douala, Foumban, Yaoundé, and Kribi, and the territory between them. The economy was carefully tied with that of France; raw materials sent to Europe were then sold back to the colony as finished goods.<ref name="DeLancey 5">DeLancey and DeLancey 5.</ref>

Great Britain administered its territory from neighbouring Nigeria. Natives complained that this made them a neglected "colony of a colony". Nigerian migrant workers flocked to Southern Cameroons, removing the need for forced labour but angering indigenous peoples. The plantations were returned to German administration until after World War II, when they were consolidated into the Cameroon Development Corporation. British administrators paid little attention to Northern Cameroons.<ref name="DeLancey 4"/>

The League of Nations mandates were converted into United Nations Trusteeships in 1946. The question of independence became a pressing issue in French Cameroun, where political parties held different ideas on the timetable and goals of self-rule.<ref name="DeLancey 5"/> The Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC) was the most radical of these and advocated immediate independence and the adoption of a socialist economy.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 5–6.</ref> France outlawed the party on 13 July 1955, prompting a long guerrilla war and the assassination of its leader, Ruben Um Nyobé. France eventually granted increasing degrees of autonomy to the territory's governing bodies.<ref name="DeLancey 6">DeLancey and DeLancey 6.</ref> In British Cameroons, the question was whether to reunify with French Cameroun or join with Nigeria.<ref name="DeLancey 5"/>


Ahmadou Ahidjo arrives at Washington, D.C., in July 1982.

On 1 January 1960, French Cameroon gained independence under President Ahmadou Ahidjo. On 1 October 1961, British Southern Cameroons reunified with them as the Federal Republic of Cameroon. Northern British Cameroons opted to join Nigeria instead. The continuing war with the UPC allowed Ahidjo to concentrate power in the presidency. The resistance was finally suppressed in 1971, but the declared state of emergency persisted.<ref name="DeLancey 6"/> Ahidjo emphasized the importance of nationalism over tribalism, using fears of ethnic violence to further consolidate power. Ahidjo's Cameroon National Union (CNU) became the sole political party on 1 September 1966. In 1972, the federal system of government was abolished in favour of a United Republic of Cameroon headed from Yaoundé.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 19.</ref>

Economically, Ahidjo pursued a policy of planned liberalism.<ref name="DeLancey 6"/> Cash crops were an early priority, but the discovery of petroleum in the 1970s shifted focus to that sector. Oil money was used to create a national cash reserve, pay farmers, and finance major development projects. Communications, education, transportation, and hydroelectric infrastructure were all expanded. Nevertheless, Ahidjo used posts at these new industries as rewards for his allies, many of whom had no development or business background; many failed.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 7.</ref>

Ahidjo stepped down on 4 November 1982, leaving power to his constitutional successor, Paul Biya. However, Ahidjo remained in control of the CNU, and a power struggle developed between the former and current president. When Ahidjo tried to assert the party's right to choose the president, Biya and his allies pressured him into resigning. Biya at first allowed open elections for party offices and for the National Assembly. However, after a failed coup attempt and the Cameroonian Palace Guard Revolt on 6 April 1984, he moved more toward the leadership style of his predecessor.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 8.</ref> Cameroon came to national attention on 21 August 1986 when Lake Nyos belched toxic fumes and killed between 1,700 and 2,000 people.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 161 report 1,700 killed; Hudgens and Trillo 1054 say "at least 2,000"; West 10 says "more than 2,000".</ref>

Biya's first major challenge was the economic crisis of the mid-1980s to late 1990s, the result of international economic conditions, drought, falling petroleum prices, and years of corruption, mismanagement, and cronyism. Cameroon turned to foreign aid; cut funds for education, government, and healthcare; and privatised industries.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 9–10.</ref> The growing dissatisfaction of Cameroon's Anglophones has since given Biya another challenge. Leaders from the formerly British portion of the country have called for greater autonomy, with some advocating complete secession as the Republic of Ambazonia.<ref name="DeLancey 9">DeLancey and DeLancey 9.</ref>



File:PaulBya Lula April 10 2005.jpg
President Paul Biya of Cameroon with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil in 2005

The President of Cameroon has broad powers to create policy, administer government agencies, command the armed forces, negotiate and ratify treaties, and declare a state of emergency without consulting the legislature.<ref>"Background Notes: Cameroon; Neba 250.</ref> The president appoints officials at all levels of government, from the prime minister (considered the official head of government),<ref>Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon, Article 10.</ref> to the provincial governors, divisional officers,<ref>Neba 250.</ref> and urban councils in large cities such as Bafoussam, Douala, and Yaoundé.<ref name="Neba 252">Neba 252.</ref> The president is selected by popular vote every seven years.<ref>Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon, Article 6.</ref> Suffrage begins at age 20.<ref name="CIA">"Cameroon", The World Factbook.</ref> In smaller municipalities, the public elects mayors and councilors by popular vote.<ref name="Neba 252"/>

Statue of a chief in Bana, West Province. 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.<ref name="CIA"/> The constitution establishes the judiciary as an independent branch of government, but in reality it falls under the authority of the executive's Ministry of Justice.<ref name="State Dept">"Background Note: Cameroon".</ref> The president appoints judges at all levels. The judiciary is officially divided into tribunals, the court of appeal, and the supreme court,<ref>Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon, Article 37.</ref> which may review the constitutionality of a law only at the president's request.<ref name="State Dept"/> The National Assembly elects the members of a nine-member High Court of Justice.<ref name="CIA"/>

Legislative power is exercised by the National Assembly. The body consists of 180 members who are elected for five-year terms and meet three times per year.<ref>Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon, Articles 15 and 16</ref> The main responsibility of the Assembly is to pass laws, and rarely has it changed or blocked legislation proposed by the president. Laws are passed on a majority vote.<ref name="State Dept"/> The 1996 constitution establishes a second house of parliament, the 100-seat Senate, but this has never been put into practice.<ref name="CIA"/> 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.<ref>"Background Note: Cameroon"; Neba 252.</ref>

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, such as the National Union for Democracy and Progress under Maigari Bello Bouba and the National Union for Democracy and Progress under Adamou Ndam Njoya. The primary opposition is the Social Democratic Front (SDF), based primarily in the Anglophone region of the country and headed by John Fru Ndi.<ref name="West 11">West 11.</ref> 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.<ref name="DeLancey 9"/> The last elections were held on October 11, 2004.

Cameroon's foreign policy calls for African unity, noninterference, and equal treatment of all nations. In reality, the country is still closely reliant on and influenced by France.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 126; Ngoh 328.</ref> Biya has clashed with neighbouring Nigeria over possession of the Bakassi peninsula and with Gabon's president, El Hadj Omar Bongo, over personal rivalries.<ref name="West 11"/> Cameroon is a member of both the Commonwealth of Nations and La Francophonie.

Administrative divisions

According to the 1996 constitution, Cameroon is divided into 10 regions, each with a high degree of autonomous control over cultural programs, the economy, healthcare, sport, and social services. A Regional Council governs each region. The people indirectly elect delegates for the council, and traditional rulers choose their own representatives. Each council appoints one of its members to act as the regional president. Nevertheless, the president of Cameroon maintains great control over these bodies; he appoints a representative administrator to each, and he retains the power to dissolve or suspend the councils or their members. The number, borders, and names of the regions may be changed by presidential decree.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 228–9.</ref>

In practice, Cameroon still follows the system that was in place prior to the adoption of the 1996 constitution. The country is divided into 10 provinces, each headed by a presidentially appointed governor. These leaders are charged with implementing the will of the president, reporting on the general mood and conditions of the provinces, administering the civil service, keeping the peace, and overseeing the heads of the smaller administrative units. Governors have broad powers: they may order propaganda in their area or call in the army, gendarmes, or police. The provinces are subdivided into 58 divisions (Template:Lang in French). These are headed by presidentially appointed divisional officers (Template:Lang), who perform the governors' duties on a smaller scale. The divisions are further sub-divided into subdivisions (Template:Lang), headed by assistant divisional officers (Template:Lang).<ref>Neba 250.</ref> The districts, administered by district heads (Template:Lang), are the smallest administrative units. These are found in large sub-divisions or in regions that are isolated or difficult to reach.<ref>Gwanfogbe et al 46.</ref>

The three northernmost provinces are the Far North (Template:Lang), North (Template:Lang), and Adamawa (Template:Lang). Directly south of them are the Centre and East (Template:Lang). The South Province (Template:Lang) borders the Gulf and Guinea and lies on the southern border. Cameroon's western region is split into four smaller provinces: The Littoral and Southwest provinces (Template:Lang) are on the coast, and the Northwest (Template:Lang) and West provinces (Template:Lang) are in the Cameroon grassfields. The Northwest and South were once part of British Cameroons; the other provinces were in French Cameroun.<ref name="West 4">West 4.</ref>


Main article: Geography of Cameroon
Volcanic plug near Rhumsiki, Far North Province

At 475,4420 km² (183,568 mi²), Cameroon is the world's 53rd-largest country.<ref>Demographic Yearbook 1.</ref> It is comparable in size to Papua New Guinea and somewhat larger than the U.S. state of California.<ref>"Rank Order - Area".</ref><ref>"Cameroon", The World Factbook.</ref> Cameroon's landmass is 469,440 km² (181,252 mi²), which includes 6,000 km² (2,317 mi²) of water.<ref name="CIA"/> The country is located in Central and West Africa on the Bight of Bonny, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. Touristic literature describes Cameroon as "Africa in miniature" because it exhibits all major climates and vegetation of the continent: coast, desert, mountains, rainforest, and savanna.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 16.</ref> The country neighbours 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 is divided into five major geographic zones distinguished by dominant physical, climatic, and vegetative features. The coastal plain extends 15–150 km (10–90 mi) inland from the Gulf of Guinea<ref>Fomesky et al 6.</ref> and has an average elevation of 90 m (295 ft).<ref>Neba 14.</ref> Exceedingly hot and humid, this belt is densely forested and includes some of the wettest places on earth.<ref>"Highest Average Annual Precipitation Extremes".</ref> The South Cameroon Plateau rises from the coastal plain to an average elevation of 650 m (2,130 ft).<ref name="Neba 16">Neba 16.</ref> Tropical rainforest dominates this region, although it is less humid than the coast.<ref>Neba 31.</ref>

An irregular chain of mountains, hills, and plateaus known as the Cameroon range extends from Mount Cameroon on the coast—Cameroon's highest point at 4,095 m (13,435 ft)<ref>Neba 17.</ref>—almost to Lake Chad at Cameroon's northern tip.<ref>Gwanfogbe et al 7.</ref> This region enjoys a pleasant climate, particularly in the Western grassfields.<ref name="Neba 29">Neba 29.</ref> Its soils are among Cameroon's most fertile, especially around volcanic Mount Cameroon.<ref name="Neba 17">Neba 17.</ref> The southern plateau rises northward to the grassy, rugged Adamawa Plateau. This feature stretches from the western mountain area and forms a barrier between the country's north and south. Its average elevation is 1,100 m (3,600 ft),<ref name="Neba 16"/> and its climate is reasonably pleasant.<ref name="Neba 29"/> The northern lowland region extends from the edge of the Adamaoua to Lake Chad with an average elevation of 300–350 m (980–1,150 ft).<ref name="Neba 17"/> Its characteristic vegetation is savanna scrub and grass. This is a region of sparse rainfall and high median temperatures.<ref name="Neba 29"/>

Cameroon has four patterns of drainage. In the south, the principal rivers are the Ntem, Nyong, Sanaga, and Wouri. These flow southwestward or westward directly into the Gulf of Guinea. The Dja and Kadéï drain southeastward into the Congo River. In northern Cameroon, the Benue River runs north and west and empties into the Niger. The Logone flows northward into Lake Chad, which Cameroon shares with three neighbouring countries.<ref>Neba 40–3.</ref>


Main article: Economy of Cameroon

Cameroon's per-capita GDP was estimated as US$2,421 in 2005,<ref>"World Economic and Financial Surveys".</ref> high for an African country.<ref name="West 12">West 12.</ref> Major export markets include France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and the United States.<ref name="CIA"/> Cameroon is part of the Banque des Etats de l'Afrique Centrale and the Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa (UDEAC).<ref>Neba 211–2.</ref> Its currency is the CFA franc.

Red tape, high taxes, and endemic corruption have kept the private sector underdeveloped.<ref>Neba 132.</ref> Unemployment was estimated at 30% in 2001, and about 48% of the population was living below the poverty threshold in 2000.<ref name="CIA"/> The minimum age of employment is 14 years, although children often help with farming or work as domestics and street vendors before that age. The minimum wage is 23,514 francs CFA per month, and the official work week is 54 hours long. Involuntary labour is illegal, although prisoners may be forced to work for private individuals or the government.<ref>West 13.</ref> Since 1997, Cameroon has been following programmes advocated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reduce poverty, privatise industries, and increase economic growth.<ref>'Background Notes: Cameroon"</ref> Tourism is a growing sector, particularly in the coastal area, around Mount Cameroon, and in the north.<ref>Neba 173–6.</ref>

Non-industrial production

Tea, such as this bag produced by the Cameroon Development Corporation, is one of Cameroon's major cash crops.

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 44.8% of GDP in 2005.<ref name="CIA"/> Most agriculture is done at the subsistence scale by local farmers using simple tools. Farmers sell surplus and may maintain separate fields for commercial exploitation.<ref>Neba 133, 135.</ref> Urban centres are particularly reliant on peasant agriculture for their foodstuffs.<ref>Neba 208.</ref> 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.<ref>Neba 147-8.</ref> Over-reliance on agricultural exports makes Cameroon vulnerable to shifts in their prices.<ref name="CIA"/>

A Fulani man herds his cattle in northern Cameroon.

Livestock are raised throughout the country, and cattle herding is a way of life for Fulani herders.<ref>Neba 154.</ref> Fishing employs some 5,000 people and provides 20,000 tons of seafood each year.<ref>Neba 185.</ref> Bushmeat, long a staple food for rural Cameroonians, is today a delicacy in the urban centres. Hunters can earn more than 550,000 francs CFA per year in meat sales, and unlike the price of cocoa and coffee, the price of bushmeat remains stable. The commercial bushmeat trade has now surpassed deforestation as the main threat to species of wildlife in Cameroon.<ref>West 24.</ref>

The southern rainforest has vast timber reserves, estimated to cover 37% of Cameroon's total land area.<ref>Neba 189.</ref> However, large areas of the forest are difficult to reach. Logging is largely handled by foreign-owned firms. Logging provides the government US$60 million a year, and laws mandate sustainable and safe exploitation of timber. Nevertheless, in practice, the industry is one of the least regulated in Cameroon.<ref>Neba 195.</ref><ref>West 23.</ref>

Industry and infrastructure

A bush taxi attempts to pass a stalled logging vehicle on the road between Abong-Mbang and Lomié, East Province.

In contrast, factory-based industry accounted for only an estimated 17% of GDP in 2005.<ref name="CIA"/> More than 75% of Cameroon's industrial strength is located in Douala and Bonabéri.<ref>Neba 170.</ref> Cameroon possesses substantial mineral resources, but these are not extensively exploited aside from some American firms that mine for cobalt and nickel.<ref>"Background Notes: Cameroon".</ref> Foreign companies have drilled for crude oil off the coast since 1978. Production has fallen since 1985, but this is still a big enough sector of the economy that dips in prices have a strong effect on Cameroon's economy.<ref>Neba 158.</ref><ref name="CIA"/> The southern rivers are obstructed by rapids and waterfalls, but these sites offer opportunities for hydroelectric development and supply most of Cameroon's energy.<ref name="West 12"/> The Sanaga River powers the largest hydroelectric station, located at Edéa.<ref>Neba 160.</ref> The rest of Cameroon's energy comes from oil-powered thermal engines. Much of the country remains without reliable power supplies.<ref>Neba 161.</ref>

Transport in Cameroon is often difficult. Roads are poorly maintained<ref>Neba 199.</ref> and subject to inclement weather, since fewer than 7% of the roadways are tarred.<ref name="CIA"/> Rail service runs from Kumba in the west to Bélabo in the east and north to Ngaoundéré. International airports are located in Douala and Garoua with a smaller facility at Yaoundé.<ref>Neba 203.</ref> The Wouri River estuary provides a harbour for Douala, the country's principal seaport. In the north, the Benoué River is seasonally navigable from Garoua into Nigeria.<ref>Neba 204–5.</ref> The major radio and television stations are owned and run by the government.<ref>Neba 207.</ref>


Tikar family in the Northwest Province

2005 estimates place Cameroon's population at 16,322,000,<ref>World Population Prospects.</ref> substantial growth since the first national census in 1976 found 7,663,246 inhabitants.<ref>Neba 100, 108.</ref> This population is young: an estimated 41.2% are under 15, and 96.7% are under 65. The birth rate is estimated at 33.89 births per 1,000 people, the death rate at 13.47.<ref name="CIA">"Cameroon". World Factbook.</ref> The 1976 census found that deaths were more than twice as common in the north and nearly that much higher in rural areas.<ref>Neba 101.</ref> The life expectancy is 51.16 years (50.98 years for males and 51.34 years for females).<ref name="CIA"/>

Cameroon's population is almost evenly divided between urban and rural dwellers.<ref>West 3.</ref> Population density is highest in the large urban centers, the western highlands, and the northeastern plain.<ref>Neba 109–11.</ref> Douala, Yaoundé, and Garoua are the largest cities.<ref> West 3.</ref> In contrast, the Adamawa Pleateau, southeastern Benue depression, and most of the South Cameroon Plateau are sparsely populated.<ref>Neba 111.</ref> People from the overpopulated western highlands and the underdeveloped north are moving to the coastal plantation zone and urban centres for employment.<ref>Neba 105–6.</ref> Smaller movements are occurring as workers seek employment in lumber mills and plantations in the south and east.<ref>Neba 106.</ref> Although the sex ratio is relatively even, these out-migrants are primarily males, which leads to unbalanced ratios in many regions.<ref>Neba 103–4.</ref> 55.8% of men and 66.8% of women were married in 1976, 76.4% in monogamous marriages and 23.6% in polygamous ones.<ref>Neba 104–5.</ref>

The homes of the Musgum, in the Far North Province, are made of earth and grass.

Estimates identify anywhere from 230 to 282 different ethnic and linguistic groups in Cameroon.<ref>Neba 65, 67.</ref><ref>West 13.</ref> The Adamawa Plateau broadly bisects these into northern and southern divisions.<ref>Neba 48.</ref> The northern peoples are the Sudanese ethnic groups, who live in the central highlands and the northern lowlands, and the Fulani, who are spread throughout northern Cameroon. These peoples are predominantly Muslim, although ethnic groups such as the Kapsiki and Tupuri retain their native animist beliefs and are called Kirdi (pagan) by the Fulani.<ref>Neba 60–61.</ref> A small number of Shuwa Arabs live near Lake Chad.<ref>Neba 64.</ref>

Southern Cameroon is inhabited by the predominantly Christian and animist speakers of Bantu and Semi-Bantu languages. Speakers of Semi-Bantu languages, such as the Bamileke, Bamum, and Tikar, live in the Western grassfields.<ref>Neba 55.</ref> Coastal Bantu-speaking groups include the Bakweri, Bassa, and Duala. The equatorial area is inhabited by Bantu-speakers such as the Beti-Pahuin and the Maka.<ref>Neba 49.</ref> Some 5,000 Pygmies roam the southeastern and coastal rainforests or live in small, roadside settlements.<ref>Neba 48.</ref> Nigerians, especially Igbo, make up the largest group of foreign nationals.<ref>Neba 108.</ref> The European languages introduced during colonialism have created a linguistic divide between the English-speaking fifth of the population who live in the Northwest and Southwest provinces and the French-speaking remainder of the country.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 28.</ref> Both English and French are official languages. Cameroonian Pidgin English is the most common lingua franca, especially in the formerly British-administered territories.<ref>Neba 94.</ref>


Baka dancers in the East Province
Main article: Culture of Cameroon
Date English Name
1 January New Year's Day
11 February National Youth Day
1 May Labour Day
20 May National Day
15 August Assumption
25 December Christmas<ref>West 86.</ref>

Each of Cameroon's ethnic groups has its own unique cultural forms. Typical celebrations include births, deaths, planting, harvesting, and religious events. Larger festivals include the Ngondo of the coastal Sawa peoples, the Ngouon of the Bamum, and the Nyem-Nyem in Ngaoundéré.<ref name="West 17">West 17.</ref> Cameroon is home to over 200 styles of dance, usually performed as part of a ceremony or to accompany a traditional storyteller. For example, the Bamileke perform war dances, and the Tupuri perform the gourna, which involves dancing in a circle with long sticks.<ref name="West 18">West 18.</ref> Several national holidays are observed throughout the year, and movable holidays include the Christian holy days of Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday, and the Muslim holidays of 'Id al-Fitr and 'Id al-Adha.<ref>West 87.</ref>

Native styles of music vary from Baka polyphony accompanied by drums and rattles to the drum- and xylophone-based styles of the Bakweri, Bamileke, Bamum, and Beti-Pahuin.<ref>West 18–9.</ref> Popular music styles include tsamassi of the Bamileke, mangambou of the Bangangte, assiko of the Bassa, and ambas-i-bay of the coast.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 184.</ref> However, the two most popular styles are makossa and bikutsi.<ref name="H&T 1049">Hudgens and Trillo 1049.</ref> Makossa developed in Douala and mixes folk music, highlife, soul, and Congo music. Manu Dibango, Francis Bebey, Moni Bilé, and Petit-Pays popularised the style worldwide in the 1970s and 1980s. Sam Fan Thomas developed a softer form of makossa called makassi in the mid-1980s. Bikutsi originated as war music among the Ewondo. It was developed into a popular dance music during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s and popularised by bands such as Les Têtes Brulées.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 51.</ref>

Cuisine varies by region, but a large, one-course, evening meal is common across 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.<ref>West 84–5.</ref> Meat and fish are popular but expensive additions.<ref name="Mbaku 121-2">Mbaku 121–2.</ref> Dishes are often quite hot, spiced with salt, red pepper, and Maggi.<ref>Hudgens and Trillo 1047; Mbaku 122; West 84.</ref> Water, palm wine, or millet beer are the traditional mealtime drinks, although beer, soda, and wine have gained popularity in modern times.<ref>Mbaku 121; Hudgens and Trillo 1048.</ref> 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.<ref name="Mbaku 121-2"/>

Basket weaving near Lake Ossa, Littoral Province

Traditional arts and crafts are practices throughout the country for commercial, decorative, and religious purposes.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 31.</ref> Woodcarvings and sculptures are especially common, and the Bamileke, Bamum, and Tikar are renowned for such pieces.<ref name="West 17"/> The western highlands' have high-quality clay suitable for pottery and ceramics,<ref>Fitzpatrick 221; West 18.</ref> and the Bamum are known for their beadworking.<ref name="West 18"/> Other crafts include basket weaving, brass and bronze working, calabash carving and painting, embroidery, and leather working.<ref>West 17–8.</ref>

Cameroonian literature and film have concentrated on both European and African themes.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 119; Volet.</ref> Early writers such as Joseph Ekolo and Louis Pouka Mbague described Europe as seen from an African perspective.<ref name="Volet">Volet.</ref> In the late colonial period, writers Mongo Beti, Ferdinand Oyono, and others analysed and criticised colonialism,<ref>Fitzpatrick 38; Volet.</ref> and shortly after independence, filmmakers such as Jean-Paul Ngassa and Therèse Sita-Bella explored similar themes.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 119–20; West 20.</ref> In the 1960s, Mongo Beti and others explored post-colonialism and problems of African development. Meanwhile, in the mid-1970s, filmmakers such as Dikonge 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. For example, Jean Marie Teno's film Afrique, je te plumerai (1991) depicts the country's struggles with democratic development.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 120.</ref>

National policy strongly advocates sport in all forms. Traditional sports include canoe racing and wrestling,<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 250.</ref> and nearly 400 runners each year participate in the 40 km Mount Cameroon Race of Hope.<ref>West 127.</ref> Cameroon is also 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.<ref>DeLancey and DeLancey 251.</ref> 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. Team forward Roger Milla gained worldwide fame for his skill and personality, and the death of midfielder Marc-Vivien Foé in the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup made world news.<ref>West 92–3, 127.</ref>

Miscellaneous topics


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