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
), which became Cameroon
in English. 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 known as Kamerun
. After World War I
, it was divided between France
and the United Kingdom
as League of Nations mandates
. The Union des Populations du Cameroun
(UPC) political party advocated independence, but was outlawed by France in the 1950s, leading to the Bamileke War
fought between French and UPC militant forces until early 1971. In 1960, the French-administered part of Cameroon became independent, as the Republic of Cameroun, under President Ahmadou Ahidjo
. The southern part
of British Cameroons
federated with it in 1961 to form the Federal Republic
of Cameroon. The federation was abandoned in 1972. The country was renamed the United Republic
of Cameroon in 1972 and the Republic of Cameroon in 1984. Paul Biya
, the incumbent president, has led the country since 1982; he previously held office as prime minister from 1975 on. Cameroon is governed as a Unitarypresidential republic
Large numbers of Cameroonians live as subsistence farmers
. The country is often referred to as "Africa in miniature" for its geological, linguistic and cultural diversity.
Its natural features include beaches
, and savannas
. Its highest point, at almost 4,100 metres (13,500 ft), is Mount Cameroon
in the Southwest Region
. Its cities with largest populations are Douala
on the Wouri River
, its economic capital and main seaport; Yaoundé
, its political capital; and Garoua
. Cameroon is well known for its native music styles, particularly Makossa
, and for its successful national football team
. It is a member state of the African Union
, the United Nations
, the Commonwealth of Nations
, Non-Aligned Movement
and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
Present-day Cameroon was first settled in the Neolithic
Era. The longest continuous inhabitants are groups such as the Baka
From there, Bantu migrations
into eastern, southern and central Africa are believed to have occurred about 2,000 years ago.
culture arose around Lake Chad
, c. 500 AD, and gave way to the Kanem and its successor state, the Bornu Empire
. Kingdoms, fondoms
, and chiefdoms
arose in the west.
is a writing system developed by King Njoya in the late 19th century
In the early 19th century, Modibo Adama
soldiers on a jihad
in the north against non-Muslim and partially Muslim peoples and established the Adamawa Emirate
. Settled peoples who fled the Fulani caused a major redistribution of population.
The Bamum tribe have a writing system, known as Bamum script
or Shu Mom. The script was given to them by Sultan Ibrahim Njoya
and is taught in Cameroon by the Bamum Scripts and Archives Project
Germany began to establish roots in Cameroon in 1868 when the Woermann Company of Hamburg built a warehouse. It was built on the estuary of the Wouri River. Later Gustav Nachtigal made a treaty with one of the local kings to annex the region for the German emperor.
The German Empire
claimed the territory as the colony of Kamerun
in 1884 and began a steady push inland. The Germans ran into resistance with the native people who did not want the Germans to establish themselves on this land. Under the influence of Germany, commercial companies were left to regulate local administrations. These concessions used forced labour
of the Africans to make a profit. The labour was used on banana, rubber, palm oil, and cocoa plantations.
They initiated projects to improve the colony's infrastructure, relying on a harsh system of forced labour, which was much criticised by the other colonial powers.
French and British rule
The British administered their territory from neighbouring Nigeria
. Natives complained that this made them a neglected "colony of a colony". Nigerian migrant workers flocked to Southern Cameroons, ending forced labour altogether but angering the local natives, who felt swamped.
The League of Nations mandates were converted into United Nations Trusteeships
in 1946, and the question of independence became a pressing issue in French Cameroun.
On 1 January 1960, French Cameroun gained independence from France under President Ahmadou Ahidjo
. On 1 October 1961, the formerly British Southern Cameroons
gained independence by vote of the UN General Assembly and joined with French Cameroun to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon, a date which is now observed as Unification Day
, a public holiday
Ahidjo used the ongoing war with the UPC to concentrate power in the presidency, continuing with this even after the suppression of the UPC in 1971.
His political party, the Cameroon National Union
(CNU), became the sole legal political party on 1 September 1966 and on 20 May 1972, a referendum was passed to abolish the federal system of government
in favour of a United Republic of Cameroon, headed from Yaoundé
This day is now the country's National Day
, a public holiday.
Ahidjo pursued an economic policy of planned liberalism
, prioritising cash crops
and petroleum development. The government used oil money to create a national cash reserve, pay farmers, and finance major development projects; however, many initiatives failed when Ahidjo appointed unqualified allies to direct them.
Ahidjo stepped down on 4 November 1982 and left power to his constitutional successor, Paul Biya
. However, Ahidjo remained in control of the CNU and tried to run the country from behind the scenes until Biya and his allies pressured him into resigning. Biya began his administration by moving toward a more democratic government, but a failed coup d'état
nudged him toward the leadership style of his predecessor.
An economic crisis
took effect in the mid-1980s to late 1990s as a result of international economic conditions, drought, falling petroleum
prices, and years of corruption, mismanagement, and cronyism
. Cameroon turned to foreign aid, cut government spending, and privatised
industries. With the reintroduction of multi-party politics in December 1990, the former British Southern Cameroons pressure groups called for greater autonomy, and the Southern Cameroons National Council
advocated complete secession as the Republic of Ambazonia
The 1992 Labour Code of Cameroon gives workers the freedom to belong to a trade union or not to belong to any trade union at all. It is the choice of a worker to join any trade union in his occupation since there exist more than one trade union in each occupation.
In June 2006, talks concerning a territorial dispute over the Bakassi
peninsula were resolved. The talks involved President Paul Biya of Cameroon, then President Olusegun Obasanjo
of Nigeria and then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
, and resulted in Cameroonian control of the oil-rich peninsula. The northern portion of the territory was formally handed over to the Cameroonian government in August 2006, and the remainder of the peninsula was left to Cameroon 2 years later, in 2008.
The boundary change triggered a local separatist insurgency
, as many Bakassians refused to accept Cameroonian rule. While most militants laid down their arms in November 2009,
some carried on fighting for years.
In February 2008, Cameroon experienced its worst violence in 15 years when a transport union strike in Douala escalated into violent protests
in 31 municipal areas.
Since November 2016, protesters from the predominantly English-speaking Northwest
regions of the country have been campaigning for continued use of the English language in schools and courts. People were killed and hundreds jailed as a result of these protests.
In 2017, Biya's government blocked the regions' access to the Internet for three months.
In September, separatists started a guerilla war
for the independence of the Anglophone region as the Federal Republic of Ambazonia
. The government responded with a military offensive, and the insurgency spread across the Northwest and Southwest regions. As of 2019, fighting between separatist guerillas and government forces continues.
During 2020, numerous terrorist attacks—many of them carried out without claims of credit—and government reprisals have led to bloodshed throughout the country.
Since 2016, more than 450,000 people have fled their homes.
The conflict indirectly led to an upsurge
in Boko Haram attacks, as the Cameroonian military largely withdrew from the north to focus on fighting the Ambazonian separatists.
Politics and government
Unity Palace – Cameroon Presidency.
The President of Cameroon
is elected and creates policy, administers government agencies, commands the armed forces
, negotiates and ratifies treaties, and declares a state of emergency.
The president appoints government officials at all levels, from the prime minister
(considered the official head of government), to the provincial governors and divisional officers.
The president is selected by popular vote every seven years.
There have been 2 presidents since the independence of Cameroon.
The National Assembly
makes legislation. The body consists of 180 members who are elected for five-year terms and meet three times per year.
Laws are passed on a majority vote.
The 1996 constitution establishes a second house of parliament, the 100-seat Senate
. 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.
A statue of a chief in Bana
, West Region.
Cameroon is viewed as rife with corruption at all levels of government. In 1997, Cameroon established anti-corruption bureaus in 29 ministries, but only 25% became operational,
and in 2012, Transparency International
placed Cameroon at number 144 on a list of 176 countries ranked from least to most corrupt.
On 18 January 2006, Biya initiated an anti-corruption drive under the direction of the National Anti-Corruption Observatory
There are several high corruption risk areas in Cameroon, for instance, customs, public health sector and public procurement.
However, the corruption has gotten worse, regardless of the existing anti-corruption bureaus, as Transparency International ranked Cameroon 152 on a list of 180 countries in 2018.
Biya and his party have maintained control of the presidency and the National Assembly in national elections, which rivals contend were unfair.
Human rights organisations allege that the government suppresses the freedoms of opposition groups by preventing demonstrations, disrupting meetings, and arresting opposition leaders and journalists.
In particular, English-speaking people are discriminated against; protests often escalate into violent clashes and killings.
In 2017, President Biya shut down the Internet in the English-speaking region for 94 days, at the cost of hampering five million people, including Silicon Mountain
Its foreign policy
closely follows that of its main ally, France (one of its former colonial rulers).
Cameroon relies heavily on France for its defence,
although military spending is high in comparison to other sectors of government.
President Biya has engaged in a decades-long clash with the government of Nigeria over possession of the oil-rich Bakassi
Cameroon and Nigeria share a 1,000-mile (1 600 km) border and have disputed the sovereignty of the Bakassi peninsula. In 1994 Cameroon petitioned the International Court of Justice
to resolve the dispute. The two countries attempted to establish a cease-fire in 1996, however, fighting continued for years. In 2002, the ICJ ruled that the Anglo-German Agreement of 1913
gave sovereignty to Cameroon. The ruling called for a withdrawal by both countries and denied the request by Cameroon for compensation due to Nigeria's long-term occupation.
By 2004, Nigeria had failed to meet the deadline to handover the peninsula. A UN-mediated summit in June 2006 facilitated an agreement for Nigeria to withdraw from the region and both leaders signed the Greentree Agreement
The withdrawal and handover of control was completed by August 2006.
Military vehicles during a parade.
The Cameroon Armed Forces, (French: Forces armées camerounaises
, FAC) consists of the country's army (Armée de Terre
), the country's navy (Marine Nationale de la République
(MNR), includes naval infantry), the Cameroonian Air Force (Armée de l'Air du Cameroun
, AAC), and the Gendarmerie
Males and females that are 18 years of age up to 23 years of age and have graduated high school are eligible for military service. Those who join are obliged to complete 4 years of service. There is no conscription in Cameroon, but the government makes periodic calls for volunteers.
Human rights organisations accuse police and military forces of mistreating and even torturing criminal suspects, ethnic minorities, homosexuals
, and political activists.United Nations
figures indicate that more than 21,000 people have fled to neighboring countries, while 160,000 have been internally displaced by the violence, many reportedly hiding in forests.
Prisons are overcrowded with little access to adequate food and medical facilities,
and prisons run by traditional rulers in the north are charged with holding political opponents at the behest of the government.
However, since the first decade of the 21st century, an increasing number of police and gendarmes have been prosecuted for improper conduct.
On 25 July 2018, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein
expressed deep concern about reports of violations and abuses in the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon.
Same-sex sexual acts
are banned by section 347-1 of the penal code with a penalty of from 6 months up to 5 years' imprisonment.
Since December 2020, Human Rights Watch
claimed that Islamist armed group Boko Haram has stepped up attacks and killed at least 80 civilians in towns and villages in the Far North region of Cameroon.
Cameroon is divided into 10 regions.
divides Cameroon into 10 semi-autonomous regions, each under the administration of an elected Regional Council
. Each region is 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 regions, 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 and call in the army, gendarmes
, and police.
All local government officials are employees of the central government's Ministry of Territorial Administration, from which local governments also get most of their budgets.
The regions are subdivided into 58 divisions (French départements
). These are headed by presidentially appointed divisional officers (préfets
). The divisions are further split into sub-divisions (arrondissements
), headed by assistant divisional officers (sous-prefets
). The districts, administered by district heads (chefs de district
), are the smallest administrative units.
The three northernmost regions are the Far North
), and Adamawa
). Directly south of them are the Centre
) and East
). The South Province
) lies on the Gulf of Guinea and the southern border. Cameroon's western region is split into four smaller regions: the Littoral
) and Southwest
) regions are on the coast, and the Northwest
) and West
) regions are in the western grassfields.
At 475,442 square kilometres (183,569 sq mi), Cameroon is the world's 53rd-largest country.
The country is located in Central
and West Africa, known as the hinge of Africa, on the Bight of Bonny
, part of the Gulf of Guinea
and the Atlantic Ocean.
Cameroon lies between latitudes 1°
, and longitudes 8°
. Cameroon controls 12 nautical miles of the Atlantic Ocean.
Cameroon is divided into five major geographic zones distinguished by dominant physical, climatic, and vegetative features. The coastal plain extends 15 to 150 kilometres (9 to 93 mi) inland from the Gulf of Guinea
and has an average elevation of 90 metres (295 ft).
Exceedingly hot and humid with a short dry season
, this belt is densely forested and includes some of the wettest places
on earth, part of the Cross-Sanaga-Bioko coastal forests
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 metres (13,435 ft)
—almost to Lake Chad
at Cameroon's northern border at 13°05'N. This region has a mild climate, particularly on the Western High Plateau
, although rainfall is high. Its soils are among Cameroon's most fertile, especially around volcanic Mount Cameroon.
Volcanism here has created crater lakes
. On 21 August 1986, one of these, Lake Nyos
, belched carbon dioxide and killed between 1,700 and 2,000 people.
This area has been delineated by the World Wildlife Fund
as the Cameroonian Highlands forests
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 metres (3,609 ft),
and its average temperature ranges from 22 °C (71.6 °F) to 25 °C (77 °F) with high rainfall between April and October peaking in July and August.
The northern lowland region
extends from the edge of the Adamawa to Lake Chad with an average elevation of 300 to 350 metres (984 to 1,148 ft).
Its characteristic vegetation is savanna scrub and grass. This is an arid region with sparse rainfall and high median temperatures.
Cameroon has four patterns of drainage. In the south, the principal rivers are the Ntem
, and Wouri. These flow southwestward or westward directly into the Gulf of Guinea. The Dja
drain southeastward into the Congo River
. In northern Cameroon, the Bénoué River
runs north and west and empties into the Niger
. The Logone
flows northward into Lake Chad, which Cameroon shares with three neighbouring countries.
Education and health
School children in Cameroon.
In 2013, the total adult literacy
rate of Cameroon was estimated to be 71.3%. Among youths age 15–24 the literacy rate was 85.4% for males and 76.4% for females.
Most children have access to state-run schools that are cheaper than private and religious facilities.
The educational system is a mixture of British and French precedents
with most instruction in English or French.
Cameroon has one of the highest school attendance rates in Africa.
Girls attend school less regularly than boys do because of cultural attitudes, domestic duties, early marriage, pregnancy, and sexual harassment. Although attendance rates are higher in the south,
a disproportionate number of teachers are stationed there, leaving northern schools chronically understaffed.
In 2013, the primary school enrollment rate was 93.5%.
The quality of health care is generally low.
Life expectancy at birth is estimated to be 56 years in 2012, with 48 healthy life years expected.
Fertility rate remain high in Cameroon with an average of 4.8 births per woman and an average mothers' age of 19.7 years old at first birth.
In Cameroon, there is only one doctor for every 5,000 people, according to the World Health Organization.
In 2014, just 4.1% of total GDP expenditure was allocated to healthcare.
Due to financial cuts in the health care system, there are few professionals. Doctors and nurses who were trained in Cameroon, emigrate because in Cameroon the payment is poor while the workload is high. Nurses are unemployed even though their help is needed. Some of them help out voluntarily so they will not lose their skills.
Outside the major cities, facilities are often dirty and poorly equipped.
In 2012, the top three deadly diseases were HIV/AIDS
, lower respiratory tract infection
, and diarrheal
Endemic diseases include dengue fever
, and sleeping sickness
prevalence rate in 2016 was estimated at 3.8% for those aged 15–49,
although a strong stigma against the illness keeps the number of reported cases artificially low.
46,000 children under age 14 were estimated to be living with HIV in 2016. In Cameroon, 58% of those living with HIV know their status, and just 37% receive ARV
treatment. In 2016, 29,000 death due to AIDS occurred in both adults and children.
Economy and infrastructure
Cargo train on the move in Cameroon
Cameroon's per capita GDP (Purchasing power parity
) was estimated as US$3,700 in 2017. Major export
markets include the Netherlands, France, China, Belgium, Italy, Algeria, and Malaysia.
Unemployment was estimated at 3.38% in 2019,
and 23.8% of the population was living below the international poverty threshold
of US$1.90 a day in 2014.
Since the late 1980s, Cameroon has been following programmes advocated by the World Bank
and International Monetary Fund
(IMF) to reduce poverty, privatise industries, and increase economic growth.
The government has taken measures to encourage tourism
in the country.
An estimated 70% of the population farms, and agriculture comprised an estimated 16.7% of GDP in 2017.
Most agriculture is done at the subsistence scale by local farmers using simple tools. They sell their surplus produce, and some maintain separate fields for commercial use. Urban centres are particularly reliant on peasant agriculture for their foodstuffs. 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.
Dutch bulls and cows at Wallya community during the rainy season in Cameroon
Livestock are raised throughout the country.
Fishing employs 5,000 people and provides over 100,000 tons of seafood each year.Bushmeat
, long a staple food for rural Cameroonians, is today a delicacy in the country's urban centres. The commercial bushmeat trade has now surpassed deforestation as the main threat to wildlife in Cameroon.
The southern rainforest has vast timber reserves, estimated to cover 37% of Cameroon's total land area.
However, large areas of the forest are difficult to reach. Logging, largely handled by foreign-owned firms,
provides the government US$60 million a year in taxes (as of 1998), and laws mandate the safe and sustainable exploitation of timber. Nevertheless, in practice, the industry is one of the least regulated in Cameroon.
Factory-based industry accounted for an estimated 26.5% of GDP in 2017.
More than 75% of Cameroon's industrial strength is located in Douala
. Cameroon possesses substantial mineral resources, but these are not extensively mined (see Mining in Cameroon
Petroleum exploitation has fallen since 1986, but this is still a substantial sector such that dips in prices have a strong effect on the economy.
Rapids and waterfalls obstruct the southern rivers, but these sites offer opportunities for hydroelectric development and supply most of Cameroon's energy. The Sanaga River powers the largest hydroelectric station, located at Edéa. The rest of Cameroon's energy comes from oil-powered thermal engines. Much of the country remains without reliable power supplies.
Transport in Cameroon
is often difficult. Only 6.6% of the roadways are tarred.
Roadblocks often serve little other purpose than to allow police and gendarmes to collect bribes from travellers.
Road banditry has long hampered transport along the eastern and western borders, and since 2005, the problem has intensified in the east as the Central African Republic
has further destabilised.
Intercity bus services
run by multiple private companies connect all major cities. They are the most popular means of transportation followed by the rail service Camrail
. Rail service runs from Kumba
in the west to Bélabo
in the east and north to Ngaoundéré
International airports are located in Douala
, with a third under construction in Maroua
Douala is the country's principal seaport.
In the north, the Bénoué River is seasonally navigable from Garoua across into Nigeria.
Although press freedoms have improved since the first decade of the 21st century, the press is corrupt and beholden to special interests and political groups.
Newspapers routinely self-censor to avoid government reprisals.
The major radio and television stations are state-run and other communications
, such as land-based telephones and telegraphs, are largely under government control.
However, cell phone networks and Internet providers have increased dramatically since the first decade of the 21st century
and are largely unregulated.
The population of Cameroon was 25,216,267 in 2018.
The life expectancy was 62.3 years (60.6 years for males and 64 years for females).
Cameroonian women on Women's Day Celebration
Cameroon has slightly more women (50.5%) than men (49.5%). Over 60% of the population is under age 25. People over 65 years of age account for only 3.11% of the total population.
Cameroon's population is almost evenly divided between urban and rural dwellers.
Population density is highest in the large urban centres, the western highlands, and the northeastern plain.
Douala, Yaoundé, and Garoua
are the largest cities. In contrast, the Adamawa Plateau, southeastern Bénoué depression, and most of the South Cameroon Plateau are sparsely populated.
People from the overpopulated western highlands and the underdeveloped north are moving to the coastal plantation zone and urban centres for employment.
Smaller movements are occurring as workers seek employment in lumber mills and plantations in the south and east.
Although the national sex ratio is relatively even, these out-migrants are primarily males, which leads to unbalanced ratios in some regions.
The homes of the Musgum
, in the Far North Region, are made of earth and grass.
marriage are practised, and the average Cameroonian family is large and extended.
In the north, women tend to the home, and men herd cattle or work as farmers. In the south, women grow the family's food, and men provide meat and grow cash crops. Cameroonian society is male-dominated, and violence and discrimination against women is common.
The number of distinct ethnic and linguistic groups in Cameroon is estimated to be between 230 and 282.
The Adamawa Plateau broadly bisects these into northern and southern divisions. The northern peoples are Sudanese groups, who live in the central highlands and the northern lowlands, and the Fulani, who are spread throughout northern Cameroon. A small number of Shuwa
Arabs live near Lake Chad. Southern Cameroon is inhabited by speakers of Bantu
languages. Bantu-speaking groups inhabit the coastal and equatorial zones, while speakers of Semi-Bantu languages live in the Western grassfields. Some 5,000 Gyele and Baka Pygmy peoples
roam the southeastern and coastal rainforests or live in small, roadside settlements.
Nigerians make up the largest group of foreign nationals.
In 2007, Cameroon hosted approximately 97,400 refugees and asylum seekers. Of these, 49,300 were from the Central African Republic (many driven west by war),
41,600 from Chad
, and 2,900 from Nigeria
Kidnappings of Cameroonian citizens by Central African bandits have increased since 2005.
On 4 June 2014, AlertNet reported:
Almost 90,000 people have fled to neighbouring Cameroon since December and up to 2,000 a week, mostly women and children, are still crossing the border, the United Nations said.
"Women and children are arriving in Cameroon in a shocking state, after weeks, sometimes months, on the road, foraging for food," said Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the World Food Programme
Both English and French are official languages, although French is by far the most understood language (more than 80%).
German, the language of the original colonisers, has long since been displaced by French and English. Cameroonian Pidgin English
is the lingua franca in the formerly British-administered territories.
A mixture of English, French, and Pidgin called Camfranglais
has been gaining popularity in urban centres since the mid-1970s.
The government encourages bilingualism in English and French, and as such, official government documents, new legislation, ballots, among others, are written and provided in both languages. As part of the initiative to encourage bilingualism in Cameroon, six of the eight universities in the country are entirely bilingual.
In addition to the colonial languages, there are approximately 250 other languages spoken by nearly 20 million Cameroonians.
It is because of this that Cameroon is considered one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world.
In the northern regions of the Far North
, the North
, and Adamawa
, the Fulani language Fulfulde
is the lingua franca with French merely serving as an administrative language. However, Chadian Arabic
in the Far North's Region's department of Logone-et-Chari
acts as the lingua franca irrespective of ethnic groups.
In 2017 there were language protests by the anglophone population against perceived oppression by the francophone.
The military was deployed against the protesters and people had been killed, hundreds imprisoned and thousands fled the country.
This culminated in the declaration of an independent Republic of Ambazonia
which has since evolved into the Anglophone Crisis
Cameroon has a high level of religious freedom
The predominant faith is Christianity
, practised by about two-thirds of the population, while Islam
is a significant minority faith, adhered to by about one-fourth. In addition, traditional faiths are practised by many. Muslims are most concentrated in the north, while Christians are concentrated primarily in the southern and western regions, but practitioners of both faiths can be found throughout the country.
Large cities have significant populations of both groups.
Muslims in Cameroon are divided into Sufis
, and non-denominational Muslims
People from the North-West and South-West provinces, which used to be a part of British Cameroons
, have the highest proportion of Protestants. The French-speaking regions of the southern and western regions are largely Catholic.
Southern ethnic groups predominantly follow Christian or traditional African animist
beliefs, or a syncretic
combination of the two. People widely believe in witchcraft, and the government outlaws such practices.
Suspected witches are often subject to mob violence.
The Islamist jihadist group Ansar al-Islam
has been reported as operating in North Cameroon.
In the northern regions, the locally dominant Fulani
ethnic group is mostly Muslim, but the overall population is fairly evenly divided among Muslims, Christians, and followers of indigenous religious beliefs (called Kirdi
("pagan") by the Fulani).
ethnic group of the West Region is largely Muslim.
Native traditional religions are practised in rural areas throughout the country but rarely are practised publicly in cities, in part because many indigenous religious groups are intrinsically local in character.
Music and dance
Dancers greet visitors to the East Region.
are integral parts of Cameroonian ceremonies, festivals, social gatherings, and storytelling.
Traditional dances are highly choreographed and separate men and women or forbid participation by one sex altogether.
The dances' purposes range from pure entertainment to religious devotion.
Traditionally, music is transmitted orally. In a typical performance, a chorus of singers echoes a soloist.
Musical accompaniment may be as simple as clapping hands and stamping feet,
but traditional instruments include bells worn by dancers, clappers, drums and talking drums
, flutes, horns, rattles, scrapers, stringed instruments, whistles, and xylophones; combinations of these vary by ethnic group and region. Some performers sing complete songs alone, accompanied by a harplike instrument.
The most notable holiday associated with patriotism in Cameroon is National Day
, also called Unity Day. Among the most notable religious holidays are Assumption Day
, and Ascension Day
, which is typically 39 days after Easter. In the Northwest and Southwest provinces, collectively called Ambazonia
, October 1 is considered a national holiday, a date Ambazonians consider the day of their independence from Cameroon.
Plantains and "Bobolo" (made from cassava) served with Ndolè (meat and shrimp).
varies by region, but a large, one-course, evening meal is common throughout the country. A typical dish is based on cocoyams, maize
, or yams
, often pounded into dough-like fufu
. This is served with a sauce, soup, or stew made from greens, groundnuts
, palm oil
, or other ingredients.
Meat and fish are popular but expensive additions, with chicken is often reserved for special occasions.
Dishes are often quite spicy, with salt, red pepper sauce, and Maggi
Cutlery is common, but food is traditionally manipulated with the right hand. Breakfast consists of leftovers of bread and fruit with coffee
. Generally breakfast is made from wheat flour in various different foods such as puff-puff (doughnuts), accra banana made from bananas
and flour, bean cakes, and many more. Snacks are popular, especially in larger towns where they may be bought from street vendors
Cameroon's relatively large and diverse population is also diverse in its contemporary fashion. Climate; religious, ethnic and cultural beliefs; and influences from colonialism, imperialism and globalization are all reflected in modern Cameroonian dress.
Notable articles of clothing include: Pagnes
worn by Cameroon women; Chechia
, a traditional hat; kwa, a male handbag; and Gandura
, male custom attire.
Wrappers and loincloths
are used extensively by both women and men but their use varies by region, with influences from Fulani
styles more present in the north and Igbo
styles more often in the south and west.
is one of Cameroon's top fashion designers and has received international recognition.
Local arts and crafts
A woman weaves a basket near Lake Ossa
, Littoral Region. Cameroonians practise such handicrafts throughout the country.
Traditional arts and crafts are practiced throughout the country for commercial, decorative, and religious purposes. Woodcarvings and sculptures are especially common.
The high-quality clay of the western highlands is used for pottery and ceramics.
Other crafts include basket weaving
, brass and bronze working, calabash
carving and painting, embroidery
, and leather
working. Traditional housing styles use local materials and vary from temporary wood-and-leaf shelters of nomadic Mbororo
to the rectangular mud-and-thatch homes of southern peoples. Dwellings of materials such as cement and tin are increasingly common.Contemporary art
is mainly promoted by independent cultural organizations (Doual'art
) and artist-run initiatives
, Atelier Viking
Films and literature
National policy strongly advocates sport in all forms. Traditional sports include canoe racing and wrestling, and several hundred runners participate in the 40 km (25 mi) Mount Cameroon Race of Hope
Cameroon is one of the few tropical countries to have competed
in the Winter Olympics
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