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.



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

Geographic coordinates

6 00 N, 12 00 E

Map references



total: 475,440 sq km
land: 472,710 sq km
water: 2,730 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly larger than California

Land boundaries

total: 5,018 km
border countries (6): 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


402 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm


varies with terrain, from tropical along coast to semiarid and hot in north


diverse, with coastal plain in southwest, dissected plateau in center, mountains in west, plains in north


mean elevation: 667 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Fako 4,095 m (on Cameroon Mountain)

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.)

Irrigated land

290 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

volcanic activity with periodic releases of poisonous gases from Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun volcanoes
volcanism: 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

Environment - current issues

waterborne diseases are prevalent; deforestation; overgrazing; desertification; poaching; overfishing

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

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

People and Society


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 (July 2016 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%


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


Catholic 38.4%, Protestant 26.3%, other Christian 4.5%, Muslim 20.9%, animist 5.6%, other 1%, non-believer 3.2% (2005 est.)

Demographic profile

Cameroon has a large youth population, with more than 60% of the populace under the age of 25. Fertility is falling but remains at a high level, especially among poor, rural, and uneducated women, in part because of inadequate access to contraception. Life expectancy remains low at about 55 years due to the prevalence of HIV and AIDs and an elevated maternal mortality rate, which has remained high since 1990. Cameroon, particularly the northern region, is vulnerable to food insecurity largely because of government mismanagement, corruption, high production costs, inadequate infrastructure, and natural disasters. Despite economic growth in some regions, poverty is on the rise, and is most prevalent in rural areas, which are especially affected by a shortage of jobs, declining incomes, poor school and health care infrastructure, and a lack of clean water and sanitation. Underinvestment in social safety nets and ineffective public financial management also contribute to Cameroon’s high rate of poverty.
International migration has been driven by unemployment (including fewer government jobs), poverty, the search for educational opportunities, and corruption. The US and Europe are preferred destinations, but, with tighter immigration restrictions in these countries, young Cameroonians are increasingly turning to neighboring states, such as Gabon and Nigeria, South Africa, other parts of Africa, and the Near and Far East. Cameroon’s limited resources make it dependent on UN support to host more than 300,000 refugees and asylum seekers. These refugees and asylum seekers are primarily from the Central African Republic and more recently Nigeria.

Age structure

0-14 years: 42.6% (male 5,228,047/female 5,149,228)
15-24 years: 19.55% (male 2,393,598/female 2,368,557)
25-54 years: 30.71% (male 3,762,054/female 3,718,266)
55-64 years: 3.97% (male 471,306/female 495,462)
65 years and over: 3.18% (male 360,386/female 413,899) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 84.3%
youth dependency ratio: 78.4%
elderly dependency ratio: 5.9%
potential support ratio: 16.9% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 18.5 years
male: 18.4 years
female: 18.6 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

2.58% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

35.8 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

9.8 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-0.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 54.4% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 3.6% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

YAOUNDE (capital) 3.066 million; Douala 2.943 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Child labor - children ages 5-14

total number: 1,396,281
percentage: 31% (2006 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

596 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 52.2 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 55.8 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 48.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 58.5 years
male: 57.1 years
female: 59.9 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

4.7 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

23.4% (2011)

Health expenditures

4.1% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

0.08 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density

1.3 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source

urban: 94.8% of population
rural: 52.7% of population
total: 75.6% of population
urban: 5.2% of population
rural: 47.3% of population
total: 24.4% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 61.8% of population
rural: 26.8% of population
total: 45.8% of population
urban: 38.2% of population
rural: 73.2% of population
total: 54.2% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

4.46% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

619,200 (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

33,100 (2015 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
animal contact disease: rabies (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

9.6% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

14.8% (2014)

Education expenditures

3% of GDP (2013)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 75%
male: 81.2%
female: 68.9% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 10 years (2011)

Mother's mean age at first birth

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2011 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 6.4%
male: 5.3%
female: 7.5% (2010 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Cameroon
conventional short form: Cameroon
local long form: Republique du Cameroun/Republic of Cameroon
local short form: Cameroun/Cameroon
former: French Cameroon, British Cameroon, Federal Republic of Cameroon, United Republic of Cameroon
etymology: in the 15th century, Portuguese explorers named the area near the mouth of the Wouri River the Rio dos Camaroes (River of Prawns) after the abundant shrimp in the water; over time the designation became Cameroon in English; this is the only instance where a country is named afer a crustacean

Government type

presidential republic


name: Yaounde
geographic coordinates: 3 52 N, 11 31 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

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)


1 January 1960 (from French-administered UN trusteeship)

National holiday

State Unification Day (National Day), 20 May (1972)


several previous; latest effective 18 January 1996; amended 2008 (2016)

Legal system

mixed legal system of English common law, French civil law, and customary law

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; non-party state to the ICCt


20 years of age; universal


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Cameroon
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Executive branch

chief of state: President Paul BIYA (since 6 November 1982)
head of government: Prime Minister Philemon YANG (since 30 June 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet proposed by the prime minister, appointed by the president
elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 7-year term (no term limits); election last held on 9 October 2011 (next to be held in October 2018); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Paul BIYA reelected president; percent of vote - Paul BIYA (CPDM) 78.0%, John FRU NDI (SDF) 10.7%, Garga Haman ADJI 3.2%, other 8.1%

National symbol(s)

lion; national colors: green, red, yellow

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of the Senate or Senat (100 seats; 70 members indirectly elected by regional councils and 30 appointed by the president; members serve 5-year terms) and the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (180 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms); note - the 100-member Senate was formed at the time of the April 2013 election
elections: Senate last held on 14 April 2013 (next to be held in 2018); National Assembly last held on 30 September 2013 (next to be held in 2018)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CPDM 56, SDF 14; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - CPDM 73.1%, SDF 17.6%, UNDP 6.1%, UDC 2.5%, other 0.7%; seats by party - CPDM 148, SDF 18, UNDP 5, UDC 4, UPC 3, other 2

Political pressure groups and leaders

Network of Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa or REDHAC [Maximilliene Ngo MBE]
Tribunal 53 [Patrice NGANANG]

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court of Cameroon (consists of 9 titular and 6 surrogate judges and organized into judicial, administrative, and audit chambers); Constitutional Council (consists of 11 members)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointed by the president with the advice of the Higher Judicial Council of Cameroon, a body chaired by the president and includes the minister of justice, selected magistrates, and representatives of the National Assembly; judge term NA; Constitutional Council members appointed by the president for single 9-year terms
subordinate courts: Parliamentary Court of Justice (jurisdiction limited to cases involving the president and prime minister); appellate and first instance courts; circuit and magistrate's courts

Political parties and leaders

Cameroon People's Democratic Movement or CPDM [Paul BIYA]
Cameroon People's Party or CPP [Edith Kah WALLA]
Cameroon Renaissance Movement or MRC [Maurice KAMTO]
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 [Jean-Jacques EKINDI]
Social Democratic Front or SDF [John FRU NDI]
Union of Peoples of Cameroon or UPC [Provisionary Management Bureau]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Essomba ETOUNDI (since 27 June 2016)
chancery: 2349 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008; current temporary address - 3400 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 265-8790
FAX: [1] (202) 387-3826

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Michael Stephen HOZA (since 19 September 2014)
embassy: Avenue Rosa Parks, Yaounde
mailing address: P.O. Box 817, Yaounde; pouch: American Embassy, US Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-2520
telephone: [237] 22220 1500; Consular: [237] 22220 1603
FAX: [237] 22220 1500 Ext. 4531; Consular FAX: [237] 22220 1752
branch office(s): Douala

Flag description

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

National anthem

name: "O Cameroun, Berceau de nos Ancetres" (O Cameroon, Cradle of Our Forefathers)
lyrics/music: Rene Djam AFAME, Samuel Minkio BAMBA, Moise Nyatte NKO'O [French], Benard Nsokika FONLON [English]/Rene Djam AFAME
note: adopted 1957; Cameroon's anthem, also known as "Chant de Ralliement" (The Rallying Song), has been used unofficially since 1948 and officially adopted in 1957; the anthem has French and English versions whose lyrics differ


Economy - overview

Modest oil resources and favorable agricultural conditions provide Cameroon with one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Oil remains Cameroon’s main export commodity, and despite falling global oil prices, still accounts

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, i

Cameroon devotes significant resources to several large infrastructure projects currently under construction, including a deep sea port in Kribi and the Lom Pangar Hydropower Project. Cameroon’s energy sector continues to diversify, recently opening a nat

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$77.24 billion (2016 est.)
$73.7 billion (2015 est.)
$69.66 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$30.87 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

4.8% (2016 est.)
5.8% (2015 est.)
5.9% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$3,300 (2016 est.)
$3,200 (2015 est.)
$3,100 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

17.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
17.6% of GDP (2015 est.)
18.6% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 76.8%
government consumption: 12.1%
investment in fixed capital: 22.7%
investment in inventories: 0.2%
exports of goods and services: 20.3%
imports of goods and services: -32.1% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 21.3%
industry: 30.8%
services: 47.9% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, cassava (manioc, tapioca); livestock; timber


petroleum production and refining, aluminum production, food processing, light consumer goods, textiles, lumber, ship repair

Industrial production growth rate

5.2% (2016 est.)

Labor force

9.612 million (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 70%
industry: 13%
services: 17% (2001 est.)

Unemployment rate

30% (2001 est.)

Population below poverty line

48% (2000 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 35.4% (2001)

Distribution of family income - Gini index

44.6 (2001)
47.7 (1996)


revenues: $4.765 billion
expenditures: $6.497 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

15.4% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-5.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

31.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
28.6% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2.4% (2016 est.)
2.7% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

4.25% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

12.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
13% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$3.973 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$3.691 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$6.514 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$5.993 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$4.777 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$4.448 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$230 million (31 December 2012 est.)

Current account balance

-$1.297 billion (2016 est.)
-$1.192 billion (2015 est.)


$5.559 billion (2016 est.)
$5.756 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

crude oil and petroleum products, lumber, cocoa beans, aluminum, coffee, cotton

Exports - partners

China 16.7%, India 15.7%, Spain 6.2%, Belgium 6.1%, France 6.1%, Portugal 5.6%, Netherlands 5%, Italy 5% (2015)


$6.63 billion (2016 est.)
$6.5 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery, electrical equipment, transport equipment, fuel, food

Imports - partners

China 27.9%, Nigeria 13.9%, France 10.9%, Belgium 4.1% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$2.416 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.714 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$7.375 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$6.3 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale francs (XAF) per dollar -
605.7 (2016 est.)
591.45 (2015 est.)
591.45 (2014 est.)
494.42 (2013 est.)
510.53 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 10,100,000
electrification - total population: 55%
electrification - urban areas: 88%
electrification - rural areas: 17% (2013)

Electricity - production

6.8 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

6.1 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

1.1 million kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

28.5% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

71.5% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

95,960 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

50,830 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

37,600 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

200 million bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

51,670 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

43,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

14,590 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

4,134 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

469 million cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

469 million cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

135.1 billion cu m (1 January 2016 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

6.5 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 1,054,978
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 4 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 16.807 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 71 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: system includes cable, microwave radio relay, and tropospheric scatter; Camtel, the monopoly provider of fixed-line service, provides connections for only about 4 per 100 persons; equipment is old and outdated, and connections with many parts of the count
domestic: 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 70 per 100 persons
international: 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) (2015)

Broadcast media

government maintains tight control over broadcast media; state-owned Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), broadcasting on both a TV and radio network, was the only officially recognized and fully licensed broadcaster until August 2007, when the government fi (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 4.909 million
percent of population: 20.7% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 3
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 267,208
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 0 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

TJ (2016)


33 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 11
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 22
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 8 (2013)


gas 53 km; liquid petroleum gas 5 km; oil 1,107 km; water 35 km (2013)


total: 987 km
narrow gauge: 987 km 1.000-m gauge
note: railway connections generally efficient but limited; rail lines connect major cities of Douala, Yaounde, Ngaoundere, and Garoua; passenger and freight service provided by CAMRAIL (2014)


total: 51,350 km
paved: 4,108 km
unpaved: 47,242 km
note: there are 28,857 km of national roads (2011)


(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)

Ports and terminals

river port(s): Douala (Wouri); Garoua (Benoue)
oil terminal(s): Limboh Terminal


Military branches

Cameroon Armed Forces (Forces Armees Camerounaises, FAC): Army (L'Armee de Terre), Navy (Marine Nationale Republique (MNR), includes naval infantry), Air Force (Armee de l'Air du Cameroun, AAC), Rapid Intervention Brigade, Fire Fighter Corps, Gendarmerie (2015)

Military service age and obligation

18-23 years of age for male and female voluntary military service; no conscription; high school graduation required; service obligation 4 years; periodic government calls for volunteers (2012)

Military expenditures

1.42% of GDP (2012)
1.37% of GDP (2011)
1.42% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

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 agreed 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

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 259,145 (Central African Republic); 87,112 (Nigeria) (2017)
IDPs: 198,889 (2016)