macrohistory & world report


Map of Cameroon

Cameroon (capital Yaounde) and neighboring states

World Factbook as of November 2014: "Because of its modest 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 confronting other underdeveloped countries, such as stagnant per capita income, a relatively inequitable distribution of income, a top-heavy civil service, endemic corruption, 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 is pressing for more reforms, including increased budget transparency, privatization, and poverty reduction programs. Subsidies for electricity, food, and fuel have strained the budget. Cameroon has several large infrastructure projects under construction, including a deep sea port in Kribi and the Lom Pangar Hydropower Project. It also recently opened a natural gas powered electricity generating plant. Cameroon must attract more investment to improve its inadequate infrastructure, but its business environment is a deterrent to foreign investment."

Water-borne diseases prevail. Cameroon suffers from deforestation, overgrazing, desertification, poaching and over-fishing.

Economic growth rate:
2011: 3.8%
2010: 3.2%
2009: 2%

Labor force in agriculture
2001: 70%

Export commodities
Crude oil and petroleum products, lumber, cocoa beans, aluminum, coffee, cotton

Export partner
2009: Spain 15.1%, Netherlands 12.8%, China 9.4%, Italy 9.3%, France 6.5%, US 6.4%

Export/import ratio
2011: exports $5.361 billion, imports $5.901

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 43rd among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal). Less equal than Britain, which ranks 94th, and the US, which ranks 45th.

Heathcare expenditures
2009: 5.6% of GDP


Living in an urban area
2010: 58%

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%

indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim 20%

Literacy, Age 15 and Older
2001: males 84%, females 67.8%


Western Africa, with 402 kilometers of coastline, just west and south of Nigeria. Slightly larger than California.


Republic of Cameroon has a president elected by popular vote for seven years, and a unicameral assembly with 180 seats. The president chooses the prime minister, who submits the names of people for the cabinet, chosen by the president. 

Recent History

Virus Origins: Viruses from non-human primates have spread among people in Cameroon. The hunting and butchering of these non-human primates has exposed people to the blood and body fluids of these animals, through which people have acquired viruses of the same family as HIV.

Oct 16, 2004: Paul Biya has been president since 1982. He won his 1997 election with 92 percent of the vote. The result of this year's election is announced, and he has won another seven years in office, by 75 percent of the vote. Opposition to him was split among 16 candidates. His closest challenger won 17 percent of the vote. Cameroon's Cardinal Tumi has questioned the results of the election. He speaks of people having lost confidence in the government's ability to conduct polling. There have been calls for the courts to annul the election.

Law, Abortion, Homosexuality: Abortion is legal only when medically necessary or as a response to rape, but many young urban women have abortions anyway. Homosexuality is illegal and can bring up to five years in prison. 

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.