Nation at a Glance - Cameroon

History

French Cameroon became independent in 1960 as the Republic of Cameroon. The following year the southern portion of neighboring British Cameroon voted to merge with the new country to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. In 1972, a new constitution replaced the federation with a unitary state, the United Republic of Cameroon. The country has generally enjoyed stability, which has enabled the development of agriculture, roads, and railways, as well as a petroleum industry. Despite slow movement toward democratic reform, political power remains firmly in the hands of President Paul BIYA.

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

Border Countries: Central African Republic 901 km, Chad 1,116 km, Republic of the Congo 494 km, Equatorial Guinea 183 km, Gabon 349 km, Nigeria 1,975 km

Total Area: 475,440 sq km Land: 472,710 sq km Water: 2,730 sq km

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

Natural resources: Petroleum, bauxite, iron ore, timber, hydropower

Land use: Agricultural land: 20.6% arable land 13.1%; permanent crops 3.3%; permanent pasture 4.2%Forest: 41.7% Other: 37.7% (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups: Cameroon Highlanders 31%, Equatorial Bantu 19%, Kirdi 11%, Fulani 10%, Northwestern Bantu 8%, Eastern Nigritic 7%, other African 13%, non-African less than 1%

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

Religions: Catholic 38.4%, Protestant 26.3%, Other Christian 4.5%, Muslim 20.9%, Animist 5.6%, Other 1%, Non-believer 3.2% (2005 est.)

Population: 24,360,803

Literacy: 75% Male: 81.2% Female: 68.9% (2015 est.)

Administrative divisions: 10 regions (regions, singular - region); Adamaoua, Centre, East (Est), Far North (Extreme-Nord), Littoral, North (Nord), North-West (Nord-Ouest), West (Ouest), South (Sud), South-West (Sud-Ouest)

Economy: Cameroon’s market-based, diversified economy features oil and gas, timber, aluminum, agriculture, mining and the service sector. Oil remains Cameroon’s main export commodity, and despite falling global oil prices, still accounts for nearly 40% of exports. Cameroon’s economy suffers from factors that often impact underdeveloped countries, such as stagnant per capita income, a relatively inequitable distribution of income, a top-heavy civil service, endemic corruption, continuing inefficiencies of a large parastatal system in key sectors, and a generally unfavorable climate for business enterprise. Since 1990, the government has embarked on various IMF and World Bank programs designed to spur business investment, increase efficiency in agriculture, improve trade, and recapitalize the nation's banks. The IMF continues to press for economic reforms, including increased budget transparency, privatization, and poverty reduction programs. The Government of Cameroon provides subsidies for electricity, food, and fuel that have strained the federal budget and diverted funds from education, healthcare, and infrastructure projects, as low oil prices have led to lower revenues. Cameroon devotes significant resources to several large infrastructure projects currently under construction, including a deep seaport in Kribi and the Lom Pangar Hydropower Project. Cameroon’s energy sector continues to diversify, recently opening a natural gas-powered electricity generating plant. Cameroon continues to seek foreign investment to improve its inadequate infrastructure, create jobs, and improve its economic footprint, but its unfavorable business environment remains a significant deterrent to foreign investment.

Agriculture - products: Coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, cassava (manioc, tapioca); livestock; timber

Industries: Petroleum production and refining, aluminum production, food processing, light consumer goods, textiles, lumber, ship repair

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