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.
volcanic activity with periodic releases of poisonous gases from Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun volcanoes
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
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
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
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
President Paul BIYA reelected; percent of vote - Paul BIYA 78.0%, John FRU NDI 10.7%, Garga Haman ADJI 3.2%, Adamou Ndam NJOYA 1.7%, Paul Abine AYAH 1.3%, other 5.1%
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
last held on 22 July 2007 (next to be held in July 2012)
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
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]
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
note:adopted 1957; Cameroon's anthem, also known as "Chant de Ralliement" (The Rallying Song), has been used unofficially since 1948 although officially adopted in 1957; the anthem has French and English versions whose lyrics differ
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. Weak prices for oil led to the significant slowdown in growth in 2010. The government is under pressure to reduce its budget deficit, which by the government's own forecast will hit 2.8% of GDP, but the presidential election in 2011 may make fiscal austerity difficult.
general assessment: system includes cable, microwave radio relay, and tropospheric scatter; Camtel, the monopoly provider of fixed-line service, provides connections for only about 2 per 100 persons; equipment is old and outdated, and connections with many parts of the country are unreliable
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 40 per 100 persons
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) (2009)
government maintains tight control over broadcast media; state-owned Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), broadcasting on both a television 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)
(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)
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
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: girls are primarily trafficked for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation and both boys and girls are trafficked for forced labor in sweatshops, bars, restaurants, street vending, mining, 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; Nigerian and Beninese children transiting Cameroon to Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, or adjacent countries often fall victim to traffickers; it is a source country for women transported by sex-trafficking rings to Europe; Cameroonian trafficking victims were reported in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Cyprus, Norway, and Senegal
Tier 2 Watch List - while the government modestly increased its efforts to prevent trafficking, including the creation of an inter-ministerial committee and a national action plan, it failed to convict or punish trafficking offenders, including complicit officials, under its child trafficking law, did not take steps to enact a 2006 draft law prohibiting the trafficking of adults, and did not exhibit significant efforts to protect victims of trafficking (2011)