Cameroon [Country Flag of Cameroon]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Cameroon]



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Location: Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Biafra, between Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria

Geographic coordinates: 6 00 N, 12 00 E

Map references: Africa

total: 475,440 sq km
land: 469,440 sq km
water: 6,000 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly larger than California

Land boundaries:
total: 4,591 km
border countries: Central African Republic 797 km, Chad 1,094 km, Republic of the Congo 523 km, Equatorial Guinea 189 km, Gabon 298 km, Nigeria 1,690 km

Coastline: 402 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 50 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 extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Fako 4,095 m

Natural resources: petroleum, bauxite, iron ore, timber, hydropower potential

Land use:
arable land: 13%
permanent crops: 2%
permanent pastures: 4%
forests and woodland: 78%
other: 3% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 210 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: recent volcanic activity with release of poisonous gases

Environment—current issues: water-borne diseases are prevalent; deforestation; overgrazing; desertification; poaching; overfishing

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: Nuclear Test Ban

Geography—note: sometimes referred to as the hinge of Africa


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Population: 15,029,433 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 46% (male 3,468,861; female 3,436,814)
15-64 years: 51% (male 3,795,748; female 3,829,824)
65 years and over: 3% (male 224,881; female 273,305) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.81% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 42.06 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 13.96 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 76.88 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 51.44 years
male: 49.9 years
female: 53.03 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.86 children born/woman (1998 est.)

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%

Religions: indigenous beliefs 51%, Christian 33%, Muslim 16%

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

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 63.4%
male: 75%
female: 52.1% (1995 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Cameroon
conventional short form: Cameroon
former: French Cameroon

Data code: CM

Government type: unitary republic; multiparty presidential regime (opposition parties legalized 1990)

National capital: Yaounde

Administrative divisions: 10 provinces; Adamaoua, Centre, Est, Extreme-Nord, Littoral, Nord, Nord-Ouest, Ouest, Sud, Sud-Ouest

Independence: 1 January 1960 (from UN trusteeship under French administration)

National holiday: National Day, 20 May (1972)

Constitution: 20 May 1972

Legal system: based on French civil law system, with common law influence; does not accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Paul BIYA (since 6 November 1982)
head of government: Prime Minister Peter Mafany MUSONGE (since 19 September 1996)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; election last held 12 October 1997 (next to be held NA October 2004); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: President Paul BIYA reelected; percent of vote—Paul BIYA 93%; note - supporters of the opposition candidates boycotted the elections, making a comparison of vote shares relatively meaningless

Legislative branch: 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)
elections: last held 11 May 1997 (next to be held NA 2002)
election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—CDPM 109, SDF 43, UNDP 13, UDC 5, UPC-K 1, MDR 1, MLJC 1; note—7 contested seats will be filled in an election at a time to be set by the Supreme Court
note: the constitution calls for an upper chamber for the legislature, to be called Senate, which the government says will be established in 1998

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the president

Political parties and leaders: Cameroon People's Democratic Movement or CPDM (government-controlled and the only party until legalization of opposition parties in 1990) [Paul BIYA, president]
major opposition parties: Cameroonian Democratic Union or UDC [Adamou NDAM NJOYA]; Movement for the Defense of the Republic or MDR [Dakole DAISSALA, leader]; Movement for the Youth of Cameroon or MLJC [ Marcel YANDO, leader]; National Union for Democracy and Progress or UNDP [Maigari BELLO BOUBA, chairman]; Social Democratic Front or SDF [John FRU NDI, leader]; Union of Cameroonian Populations or UPC [Augustin Frederick KODOG, leader]; Union of Cameroonian Democratic Forces or UFOC [Victorin Hameni BIELEU]

Political pressure groups and leaders: Alliance for Change or FAC; Cameroon Anglophone Movement or CAM [Vishe FAI, secretary general]

International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, BDEAC, C, CCC, CEEAC, ECA, FAO, FZ, G-19, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, PCA, UDEAC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNITAR, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jerome MENDOUGA
chancery: 2349 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 265-8790 through 8794

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Charles H. TWINING
embassy: Rue Nachtigal, Yaounde
mailing address: B. P. 817, Yaounde; Pouch: American Embassy DOS, Washington, DC 20521-2520
telephone: [237] 23-40-14, 23-05-12
FAX: [237] 23-07-53

Flag description: three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), red, and yellow with a yellow five-pointed star centered in the red band; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia


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Economy—overview: Because of its 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 facing other underdeveloped countries, such as a top-heavy civil service and a generally unfavorable climate for business enterprise. The development of the oil sector led to rapid economic growth between 1970 and 1985. Growth came to an abrupt halt in 1986, precipitated by steep declines in the prices of major exports: petroleum, coffee, and cocoa. Export earnings were cut by almost one-third, and inefficiencies in fiscal management were exposed. 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 government, however, failed to press forward vigorously with these programs. The latest enhanced structural adjustment agreement was signed in October 1997; the parties hope this will prove more successful, yet government mismanagement remains a problem. Inflation, which rose to 48% after the devaluation of 1994, has been brought back under control. Progress toward privatization of remaining state industry remains slow. President BIYA's new government of December 1997 has replaced old hands in the government economic control structure with promising technocrats.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$30.9 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 5% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$2,100 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 32%
industry: 27%
services: 41% (1995 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 3% (1997 est.)

Labor force: NA

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $2.23 billion
expenditures: $2.23 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY96/97 est.)

Industries: petroleum production and refining, food processing, light consumer goods, textiles, lumber

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 627,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 2.715 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 201 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, root starches; livestock; timber

total value: $1.9 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: crude oil and petroleum products, lumber, cocoa beans, aluminum, coffee, cotton
partners: EU (particularly France, Italy, and Spain) about 60%, African countries, Korea, Taiwan, and China

total value: $1.5 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: machines and electrical equipment, food, consumer goods, transport equipment, petroleum products
partners: EU (France 40%), African countries, US 7%

Debt—external: $10 billion (1996 est.)

Economic aid: France signed two loan agreements totaling $55 million in September 1997 and the Paris Club agreed in October 1997 to reduce the official debt by 50% and to reschedule it on favorable terms with a consolidation of payments due through 2000

Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: CFA francs (CFAF) per US$1—608.36 (January 1998), 583.67 (1997), 511.55 (1996), 499.15 (1995), 555.20 (1994), 283.16 (1993)
note: beginning 12 January 1994, the CFA franc was devalued to CFAF 100 per French franc from CFAF 50 at which it had been fixed since 1948

Fiscal year: 1 July—30 June


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Telephones: 36,737 (1991 est.)

Telephone system: available only to business and government
domestic: cable, microwave radio relay, and tropospheric scatter
international: satellite earth stations—2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 11, FM 11, shortwave 0

Radios: 2 million (1993 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 1 (1997)

Televisions: NA


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total: 1,104 km
narrow gauge: 1,104 km 1.000-m gauge (1995 est.)

total: 34,300 km
paved: 4,288 km
unpaved: 30,012 km (1995 est.)

Waterways: 2,090 km; of decreasing importance

Ports and harbors: Bonaberi, Douala, Garoua, Kribi, Tiko

Merchant marine:
total: 2 cargo ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 24,122 GRT/33,509 DWT (1996 est.)

Airports: 52 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 11
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 41
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 19
under 914 m: 14 (1997 est.)


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Military branches: Army, Navy (includes Naval Infantry), Air Force, National Gendarmerie, Presidential Guard

Military manpower—military age: 18 years of age

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 3,287,626 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 1,663,852 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:
males: 160,640 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $102 million (FY93/94)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: NA%

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: demarcation of international boundaries in the vicinity of Lake Chad, the lack of which led to border incidents in the past, is completed and awaits ratification by Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria; dispute with Nigeria over land and maritime boundaries in the vicinity of the Bakasi Peninsula has been referred to the ICJ with a ruling expected in 1998