The History of Cameroon
The earliest inhabitants of Cameroon were probably the Baka (Pygmies). They still inhabit the forests of the south and east provinces. Bantu speakers originating in the Cameroonian highlands were among the first groups to move out before other invaders. The Mandara kingdom in the Mandara Mountains was founded around 1500 and erected fortified structures, the purpose and exact history of which are still unresolved. The Aro Confederacy of Nigeria may have had presence in western (later called British) Cameroon due to migration in the 18th and 19th centuries.
During the late 1770s and the early 19th century, the Fulani, a pastoral Islamic people of the western Sahel, conquered most of what is now northern Cameroon, subjugating or displacing its largely non-Muslim inhabitants.
Although the Portuguese arrived on Cameroon’s doorstep in the 16th century, malaria prevented significant European settlement and conquest of the interior until the late 1870s, when large supplies of the malaria suppressant, quinine, became available. The early European presence in Cameroon was primarily devoted to coastal trade and the acquisition of slaves. The northern part of Cameroon was an important part of the Muslim slave trade network. The slave trade was largely suppressed by the mid-19th century. Christian missions established a presence in the late 19th century and continue to play a role in Cameroonian life.
Beginning on July 5, 1884, all of present-day Cameroon and parts of several of its neighbours became a German colony, Kamerun, with a capital first at Buea and later at Yaoundé.
The Imperial German government made substantial investments in the infrastructure of Cameroon, including the extensive railways, such as the 160-metre single-span railway bridge on the South Sanaga River branch. Hospitals were opened all over the colony, including two major hospitals at Douala, one of which specialised in tropical diseases, the Germans had discovered in 1912, wrote in an official report in 1919 that the population of Kamerun had increased significantly. However, the indigenous peoples proved reluctant to work on these projects, so the Germans instigated a harsh and unpopular system of forced labour. In fact, Jesko von Puttkamer was relieved of duty as governor of the colony due to his untoward actions toward the native Cameroonians. In 1911 at the Treaty of Fez after the Agadir Crisis, France ceded a nearly 300,000 km² portion of the territory of French Equatorial Africa to Kamerun which became Neukamerun, while Germany ceded a smaller area in the north in present day Chad to France.
In World War I the British invaded Cameroon from Nigeria in 1914 in the Kamerun campaign, with the last German fort in the country surrendering in February 1916. After the war this colony was partitioned between the United Kingdom and France under a June 28, 1919 League of Nations mandates (Class B). France gained the larger geographical share, transferred Neukamerun back to neighboring French colonies, and ruled the rest from Yaoundé as Cameroun (French Cameroons).
Britain’s territory, a strip bordering Nigeria from the sea to Lake Chad, with an equal population was ruled from Lagos as Cameroons (British Cameroons). German administrators were allowed to once again run the plantations of the southwestern coastal area. A British Parliamentary Publication, Report on the British Sphere of the Cameroons (May 1922, p. 62-8), reports that the German plantations there were ‘as a whole . . . wonderful examples of industry, based on solid scientific knowledge. The natives have been taught discipline and have come to realise what can be achieved by industry. Large numbers who return to their villages take up cocoa or other cultivation on their own account, thus increasing the general prosperity of the country.’
On 18 December 1956, the outlawed Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (UPC), based largely among the Bamileke and Bassa ethnic groups, began an armed struggle for independence in French Cameroon. This rebellion continued, with diminishing intensity, even after independence until 1961. Estimates of death from this conflict vary from thousands to hundreds of thousands.
Legislative elections were held on 23 December 1956 and the resulting Assembly passed a decree on 16 April 1957 which made Cameroon a State. It took back its former status of associated territory as a member of the French Union. Its inhabitants became Cameroonian citizens, Cameroonian institutions were created under the sign of parliamentary democracy. On 12 June 1958 the Legislative Assembly of Cameroon asked the French government to: ‘Accord independence to the State of Cameroon at the end of their trusteeship. Transfer every competence related to the running of internal affairs of Cameroon to Cameroonians. On 19 October 1958 France recognized the right of her United Nations trust territory of the Cameroons to choose independence. On 24 October 1958 the Legislative Assembly of Cameroon solemnly proclaimed the desire of Cameroonians to see their country achieve full independence on 1 January 1960. It enjoined the government of Cameroon to ask France to inform the General Assembly of the United Nations, to abrogate the trusteeship accord concomitant with the independence of Cameroon. On 12 November 1958 having accorded Cameroon total internal autonomy and thinking that this transfer no longer permitted them to assume its responsibilities of trust territory for an unspecified period, the government of France asked the United Nations to grant the wish of Cameroonians. On 15 December 1958 the United Nations’ General Assembly took note of the French government’s declaration according to which Cameroon which was under French administration would gain independence on 1 January 1960, thus marking an end to the trusteeship period (Resolution 1282. XIII). On 13 March 1959 the United Nations’ General Assembly resolved that the UN Trusteeship Agreement with France for Cameroon would end when Cameroon became independent on 1 January 1960 (Resolution 1349. XIII).
Cameroon After Independence:
French Cameroon achieved independence on January 1, 1960 as the La Republique du Cameroun. After Guinea, it was the second of France’s colonies in Sub-Saharan Africa to be granted independence. The following year, on October 1, 1961, the largely Muslim northern two-thirds of British Cameroons voted to join Nigeria, the largely Christian southern third, Southern Cameroons, voted to join with the Republic of Cameroon to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The formerly French and British regions each maintained substantial autonomy. Ahmadou Ahidjo, a French-educated Fulani, was chosen president of the federation in 1961. Ahidjo, relying on a pervasive internal security apparatus, outlawed all political parties but his own in 1966. He successfully suppressed the continuing UPC rebellion, capturing the last important rebel leader in 1970. In 1972, a new constitution replaced the federation with a unitary state called the United Republic of Cameroon. This is the major cause of tension between the French and English speaking areas of Cameroon. Southern Cameroonians feel the agreement at the Foumban constitution conference was not respected.
Although Ahidjo’s rule was characterised as authoritarian, he was seen as noticeably lacking in charisma in comparison to many post-colonial African leaders. He didn’t follow the anti-western policies pursued by many of these leaders, which helped Cameroon achieve a degree of comparative political stability and economic growth.
Ahidjo resigned as president in 1982 and was constitutionally succeeded by his Prime Minister, Paul Biya, a career official from the Beti-Pahuin ethnic group. Ahidjo later regretted his choice of successors, but his supporters failed to overthrow Biya in a 1984 coup. Biya won elections in 1983 and 1984 when the country was again named the Republic of Cameroon. Biya has remained in power, winning multiparty elections in 1992, 1997, and 2004 etc. His Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) party holds a sizable majority in the legislature.
On August 15, 1984, Lake Monoun exploded in a cataclysmic eruption that released carbon dioxide, suffocating 37 people to death. On August 21, 1986, another cataclysmic eruption at Lake Nyos which killed as many as 1,800 people and 3,500 livestock. The two disasters are the only recorded instances of
THE 10 REGIONS OF CAMEROON
Population: 681 362 inhabitants
Surface area: 63 701km2
Number of Divisions: 5
Water catchment region of Cameroon, this Region is full of crater lakes, cattle ranches, underground minerals, wild animal species and several caves.
Adamawa is affectionately known as the watershed of Cameroon, due to the many large rivers of the country that find their source here. It is also a hunting ground much appreciated by those who love big game hunting. They encounter optimal conditions for pursuing their favourite sports here: game in abundance plus comfortable camps and ranches. Ngaoundere, at the northern terminus of the North-South railway, is a picturesque town; its mosques and the palace of Lamido with its magnificent murals are examples of the characteristically traditional architecture of this region. Of special interest in the town are the very animated market quarter of baladji, the Lamido Palace and the museum.
Population: 2 272 259 inhabitants
Surface area : 68 953 km2
Number of Divisions : 10
Density: 32.96 inhabitants/km2
Seat of the political capital of the country. So many interesting natural sites such as the caves of Akok-Bekoe, monuments of colonial figures such as Charles Atangana, the Chief of the Ewondos, and the forest reserve of Ottomo (Ngoumou).
Yaoundé, the region’s county town, is also the capital of the country. Because of its location, Yaoundé hosts the headquarters of the Republic’s institutions and with its infrastructure which supports international-class hotels, is one of the preferred destinations for tourists, business people, diplomats, conference participants and academics. Built on several hills, Yaoundé enjoys a picturesque site and a climate relatively fresher than that of the coastal area: maximum temperatures hover between 30 and 33°C and minimum temperatures remain at around 15°C. The great tourist attraction of the region is the Ebogo site at around 60km from Yaoundé, near Mbalmayo.
Presentation of the city :
With its seven hills, situated practically in the centre of the country, Yaoundé became the administrative capital of Cameroon at the time it became independent in 1960. This area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, as tools dating back at least six hundred thousand years have been discovered. The climate is humid from July to October, whilst the dry season spans November.
Population: 711 651 inhabitants
Surface area: 109 002 km2
Number of Divisions: 4
Density: 6.53 inhabitants/km2
Visitors can undertake to cross the vast forests that cover this Region. The visitor can easily get into camps set up for pygmies, enjoy the biodiversity in the Dja reserve and get a view of the Gbaya and Maka cultures.
The East Region is populated, among other tribes, by the pygmies, the first inhabitants of the region who harvest crops, gather fruits and hunt. Friendly and welcoming, they have succeeded in turning their environment into a centre of hospitality visited by many tourists.
Also called “The Region of the Rising Sun”, the East is an ecological zone dominated by huge trees.
In this area, nearly 1,500 plant species, some of which are wholly or partially protected, as well as over 500 animal species are to be found, mostly in the Dja Reserve which has been named a World Heritage Site. These numerous and varied advantages means that the East Region is particularly suitable for several forms of tourism, especially ecotourism, controlled hunting tourism, photo safaris and exploration.
Population: 2 553 389 inhabitants
Surface area: 34 263 km2
Number of Divisions: 6
Density: 74.52 inhabitants/km2
Apart from the numerous wild animals which make this Region a pleasurable destination for hunting, there is a wide variety of traditional rulers’ palaces, lunar landscape in Kapsiki, caves and lakes with a high concentration of hippopotamus, handicraft shops and horse displays. Three national parks in this Region namely; the national park of Kalamaloué at Kousseri, the national park of Waza at Waza and the national park of Mozogo at Koza.
It is intersected by massifs with strange and tormented shapes, such as in the picturesque and enchanted landscapes of the Kapsikis, a favourite haunt of tourists. Rhumsiki is a veritable Mecca for Cameroon tourism.
The inhabitants of the Far North, people of the hinterland, have been able to preserve an authentic culture which may be seen via the architecture, artistic creations, handicrafts, traditions and folklore of tribes such as the Foulbés, Matakams, Toupouris, Massas, Kotokos, Kirdis, Arabes Choa, Mousgoums, Mandaras and the Mofous.
Above all, however, the Far North Region is famous for the Waza National Park. This is the most well-known and most visited park, having the best reputation in Cameroon and all of French-speaking Africa.
Population: 1 861 463 inhabitants
Surface area: 20 248 km2
Number of Divisions: 4
Density: 91.93 inhabitants/km2
The ‘ngondo’ festival is deeply rooted here, and other seaside pastimes abound as the indigenous people of this Region celebrate their intimate relation with water. The entry point into the country for most visitors and harbours a lot of historic monuments. Natural attractions such as the waterfalls of Ekom Kam, lake Ossa and large commercial plantations.
Located almost along the sea’s edge on the left bank of the Wouri River, the City of Douala is the regional and economic capital of Cameroon and remains the main port of entry into the country.
This town is bustling with activities, thanks to its port which is one of the biggest on the West African coast and its international airport, which is served by a number of airline companies.
Apart from a thriving business in tourism which benefits from a high-quality and rapidly expanding hotel industry, the major tourist attractions of Douala are its monuments, dating back to the colonial period, and its many markets. However, Douala is not the only attraction of the region, the secondary towns of Edéa and Nkongsamba also attract many tourists visiting Yaoundé or Kribi, or the West and North-West Regions.
Douala’s main districts:
• Bonanjo – administrative centre and residential district
• Akwa – business district
• Bonapriso and Bali – residential district where the public services are to be found
• Bassa – working class district and industrial zone
• New Bell, Deido, New Deido and Bépanda – working-class districts
• North Akwa – a district of housing estates
• Bonabéri – on the other bank of the river
Douala’s main cultural event:
A canoe race on the Wouri River is Ngondo’s great cultural event, an opportunity for the Sawa tribe to contact their ancestors who live in the water.
Douala tourist sites:
• Islands of Manoka and Djebalé
• Sandaga central market
• Youpwé fishing village
• Bridge over the Wouri River
• ONCPB Museum in the town hall (this was the National office for negotiating and selling basic products at the best price)
• Flower and artwork market
• Pagoda of King Bell
Population: 1 145 038 inhabitants
Surface area: 66 090 km2
Number of Divisions 4
Density: 17.33 inhabitants/km2
The visitor has a wide variety of options, ranging from national parks, hunting areas, horse displays, traditional palaces to the attractions of the Benoué river with a dam at Lagdo and several archaeological sites where fossil remains of dinosaurs have been found. The national parks here include those of Benoué, Boubandjida and Faro.
This great wildlife potential has given rise to the following forms of tourism:
• Animal watching or Photo safaris with over 600km of trails open every year;
• Controlled hunting: Sport hunting and recreational fishing in zones especially developed and spread out around the national parks, the majority of which are leased out to professional hunting guides.
The Lagdo dam with its wonderful hyrax island also provides one of the tourist attractions of this province. Boasting of an international airport, Garoua, is one of the major entry ports into Cameroon, along with Douala and Yaoundé.
Population: 1 702 559 inhabitants
Surface area: 17 300 km2
Number of Divisions: 7
Density: 98.41 inhabitants/km2
Hilly and mountainous regions with grass field landscape, the visitor here has a wide variety of traditional palaces, waterfalls, crater lakes, handicraft shops and other cultural artefacts which make it a regular tourist destination.
The landscape is covered in grassland and offers a captivating spectacle characterized by the panoramic contrast between plains surrounded by mountain ranges, and deep valleys which sometimes feature rivers interspersed with waterfalls and numerous crater lakes.
Outside the rainy season (from July to October), throughout the rest of the year, the region offers a climate which encourages tourism. It enjoys gentle and fresh temperatures hovering around 22°C.
Bamenda, the region’s main built-up area and regional capital, is both a modern and traditional town. It is an important commercial centre and a main crossroads for routes leading to all parts of the region.
An interstate highway is 350km (220 miles) long known as the “Ring Road”, allows visitors to admire the region in all its diversity: from traditional chiefdom, landscapes, lakes and waterfalls to wildlife reserves, etc.
Population: 1 843 518 inhabitants
Surface area: 13 892 km2
Number of Divisions: 8
Density: 132.7 inhabitants/km2
Mountainous Region with many traditional palaces, crater lakes and colourful funeral ceremonies (between the months of November and February every year), and the ‘ngoun’, a great annual festival of the Bamoun people.
The climate here is temperate in certain areas, such as the Dschang meteorological station, registering average annual temperatures of 20°C.
The West Region is a land of traditions and culture and is characterized by a richness of its craftsmanship, expressed in numerous ways: pipes, clay utensils, statues and masks in copper, stools decorated in pearls and bamiléké dancers in beautiful costumes. Foumban is the center of Cameroon’s craft industry.
Population: 514 336 inhabitants
Surface area: 47 191 km2
Number of Divisions: 4
Density: 10.9 inhabitants/km2
Area with dense forests and small islets, visitors here can also enjoy the beaches along the coast and the Lobe waterfalls. There are also abundant reserves of sea food.
There are numerous rivers, some larger than others, reinforcing the humid climate of this region and featuring spectacular waterfalls and cascades like those in Lobé and Memve’ele. The South opens directly onto the Atlantic Ocean with approximately 100 miles of coastline and fine sandy beaches ideal for the development of seaside resorts for tourists.
By choosing to visit the South Region, you unlock the door to discovering monuments and ancient reminders of the first missionaries and the history of the colonization of our country, notably at Kribi and Campo. Also to be admired is the splendor of the natural forest in the Dja Reserve, justifiably declared one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Population: 1 153 125 inhabitants
Surface area: 25 410 km2
Number of Divisions: 6
Density: 45.38 inhabitants/km2
Home of the highest Mountain in the country and in West Africa, Mount Cameroon. The coastline here also has attractive beaches. Further inland, the Korup national park has a wide variety of rare animals and trees.
• The relics of buildings dating back to the colonial era, including the palace of the German governor, Von Puttkamer, built at the beginning of the 20th century.
• Mount Cameroon, 4,100m high, which is still an active volcano;
• The Korup National Park, a living natural history museum dating back to 300 million years and enjoying a rare variety of flora and fauna.
• The Limbé Botanical Garden created in 1892 by German horticulturists.
• The Limbé Zoo, open all year round to tourists.
• The Barombi Lake in Kumba, with its luxuriant decor.
The South-West Region also has beautiful beaches of fine grey sand lapped by the Atlantic Ocean
Geography of Cameroon
Cameroon is situated in Central Africa, at the junction of the Gulf of Guinea. It is bounded on the North by Chad, on the East by the Central Africa Republic, on the South by Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and on the West by Nigeria.
Cameroon is a country with several major towns, amongst which are YAOUNDE, the political capital of the country with about one million inhabitants. DOUALA, which is the major economic city, has more than two million inhabitants. The other main towns are GAROUA, BAFOUSSAM, MAROUA, BAMENDA, LIMBE, BUEA etc.
The most notable tribes are:
– BANTUS: Beti, Bassa, Bakundu, Maka, Douala, Pygmies……
– SEMI-BANTUS: Bamileke, Gbaya, Bamoun, Tikar……..
– SUDANESE: Fulbe, Mafa, Toupouri, Shoa-Arabs, Moundang, Massa, Mousgoum….
French and English are the official languages, which are spoken by 70% and 30% of the population respectively. Spanish and German are equally spoken by a few city-dwellers.
Religious: Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Assumption, Christmas, End of Fasting, Feast of the Ram.
Secular: New Year, Youth Day (11th February), Labour Day (1st May), National Day (20th May).
Tourist Attractions In Cameroon:
Besides the shooting season which is practised in the northern part of the country from November to May, all other tourist activities can be undertaken throughout the whole year.
Climate Of Cameroon:
Dry and rainy seasons alternate in the country, with the dry season generally going from November to March. Temperatures range from 23 to 31°C in January to 21 to 35°C in July.
ISO code is CM
Time: 1 behind GMT
Cameroon is a secular state. Two major religions are Christianity and Islam. Animism is also widely
Cameroon is located in the bay of the Gulf of Guinea, just above the Equator and extends from Lake Chad to the Atlantic coast.
Cameroon shares its frontiers with various countries:
• Equatorial Guinea to the South West
• Gabon, to the South-East
• Congo to the South
• Central African Republic, to the East
• Chad to the North and
• Nigeria to the West.
• Surface area: 475,442 km2
• Maximum altitude: 4,070 m (Mount Cameroon)
• Political capital: Yaoundé, at 700m above sea level and 250km from the coast.
• Principal cities include Douala, Garoua, Maroua, Ngaoundéré, Bafoussam, Bamenda, Bertoua, Kribi, Ebolowa, Buéa, Edéa and Nkongsamba.
Cameroon has two types of climates: Rainy Season and Dry Season
– In the South, the western high plateaus and coastal plains are influenced by sea and relief with heavy and regular rains and constant temperatures (average 26° C).
The natural beauty and diversity invites people to have a stronger respect for environmental protection. Therefore, tourists have a great opportunity to find out their harmony with Nature and its treasure. Because vegetation reflects climate, it is humid in the luxuriant tropical forests of the South, which represents more than one third of the total area.
At first glance, the tourist is surprised by the beautiful diversity of the Cameroonian landscape. His curiosity is excited along the trail of discovery, from picturesque mountains to grey-sandy beaches.
In the North, lunar landscapes like the Kapsikis stand out over the surrounding steppes. Irrigated by great rivers, the South and East tropical forests dominate the territory.
In the South coast, near Kribi, The Cameroonian Côte D’Azur, tourists really appreciate the pleasure of the vast sandy beaches shaded by coconut trees.
Finally, Mount Cameroon in the South West, an active volcano towering over the Ocean, offers its black-sandy beaches at Limbe along with other beautiful colors of Cameroon.
Cameroon is a real paradise for animals in the wild. The country concentrates the best fauna of Central Africa, through its 9 natural parks and other numerous reserves. Such an exceptional resource stands as a treasure to all tourists in search of “The Soul of Africa”. Their dreams become true in the northern savannah when they meet lions, giraffes, elephants, rhinoceros …etc. Down in the South, forests and rivers full of funny gorillas are waiting for their visits.
Cameroon keeps on developing its economy; after a sustained-growth between 1965 and 1985, the country has experienced years of slow down before recovering growth in 1995.
There are some processing industries for farm products: coffee plants, sugar refineries, shelling, spinning and weaving cotton factories, palm-oil works and latex production.
The telecommunications network is modern and updated. Web access is available in the main cities of the country with a flourishing activity of cyber-services. Bank and insurance are constantly improving their services.
Expression has been created by IMF economists to designate a category of workers in developing countries, who are registered neither in public services nor in private services nor in private structured enterprises. In Cameroon, they are approximately 70% of the labour force with a 40% contribution of the GDP (Gross Domestic Products).
An Increasing Urbanization
The recent population growth has led to a big migration towards the major urban centers. Yaoundé is the political capital meanwhile Douala concentrates the business activities around the port.