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The World Factbook (1990)/Cameroon



World Factbook (1990) Cameroon.jpg

 See regional map VII


Total area: 475,440 km²; land area: 469,440 km²

Comparative area: slightly larger than California

Land boundaries: 4,591 km total; Central African Republic 797 km, Chad 1,094 km, Congo 523 km, Equatorial Guinea 189 km, Gabon 298 km, Nigeria 1,690 km

Coastline: 402 km

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: not specific
Territorial sea: 50 nm

Disputes: exact locations of the Chad-Niger-Nigeria and Cameroon-Chad-Nigeria tripoints in Lake Chad have not been determined, so the boundary has not been demarcated and border incidents have resulted; Nigerian proposals to reopen maritime boundary negotiations and redemarcate the entire land boundary have been rejected by Cameroon

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: crude oil, bauxite, iron ore, timber, hydropower potential

Land use: 13% arable land; 2% permanent crops; 18% meadows and pastures; 54% forest and woodland; 13% other; includes NEGL% irrigated

Environment: recent volcanic activity with release of poisonous gases; deforestation; overgrazing; desertification

Note: sometimes referred to as the hinge of Africa


Population: 11,092,470 (July 1990), growth rate 2.7% (1990)

Birth rate: 42 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 15 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 0 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 120 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 49 years male, 53 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 5.7 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Cameroonian(s); adjective—Cameroonian

Ethnic divisions: over 200 tribes of widely differing background; 31% Cameroon Highlanders, 19% Equatorial Bantu, 11% Kirdi, 10% Fulani, 8% Northwestern Bantu, 7% Eastern Nigritic, 13% other African, less than 1% non-African

Religion: 51% indigenous beliefs, 33% Christian, 16% Muslim

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

Literacy: 56.2%

Labor force: NA; 74.4% agriculture, 11.4% industry and transport, 14.2% other services (1983); 50% of population of working age (15-64 years) (1985)

Organized labor: under 45% of wage labor force


Long-form name: Republic of Cameroon

Type: unitary republic; one-party presidential regime

Capital: Yaoundé

Administrative divisions: 10 provinces; Adamaoua, Centre, Est, Extrême-Nord, Littoral, Nord, Nord-Ouest, Quest, Sud, Sud-Ouest

Independence: 1 January 1960 (from UN trusteeship under French administration; formerly French Cameroon)

Constitution: 20 May 1972

Legal system: based on French civil law system, with common law influence; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: National Day, 20 May (1972)

Executive branch: president, Cabinet

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government President Paul BIYA (since 6 November 1982)

Political parties and leaders: only party—Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (RDPC), Paul Biya, president

Suffrage: universal at age 21

Elections: President—last held 24 April 1988 (next to be held April 1993); results—President Paul Biya reelected without opposition;

National Assembly—last held 24 April 1988 (next to be held April 1993); results—RDPC is the only party; seats—(180 total) RDPC 180

Communists: no Communist party or significant number of sympathizers

Other political or pressure groups: Cameroon People's Union (UPC), remains an illegal group with its factional leaders in exile

Member of: ACP, AfDB, CCC, EAMA, ECA, EIB (associate), FAO, G-77, GATT, IAEA, IBRD, ICAC, ICAO, ICO, IDA, IDB—Islamic Development Bank, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, INTELSAT, INTERPOL, IPU, ISO, ITU, Lake Chad Basin Commission, NAM, Niger River Commission, OAU, OIC, UDEAC, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Paul PONDI; Chancery at 2349 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 265-8790 through 8794; US—Ambassador Frances COOK; Embassy at Rue Nachtigal, Yaounde (mailing address is B. P. 817, Yaounde); telephone [237] 234014; there is a US Consulate General in Douala

Flag: three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), red, and yellow with a yellow five-pointed star centered in the red band; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia


Overview: Over the past decade the economy has registered a remarkable performance because of the development of an offshore oil industry. Real GDP growth annually averaged 10% from 1978 to 1985. In 1986 Cameroon had one of the highest levels of income per capita in tropical Africa, with oil revenues picking up the slack as growth in other sectors softened. Because of the sharp drop in oil prices, however, the economy is now experiencing serious budgetary difficulties and balance-of-payments disequalibrium. Oil reserves currently being exploited will be depleted in the early 1990s, so ways must be found to boost agricultural and industrial exports in the medium term. The Sixth Cameroon Development Plan (1986-91) stresses balanced development and designates agriculture as the basis of the country's economic future.

GDP: $12.9 billion, per capita $955; real growth rate -8.6% (1988)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 8.6% (FY88)

Unemployment rate: 7% (1985)

Budget: revenues $2.17 billion; expenditures $2.17 billion, including capital expenditures of $833 million (FY88)

Exports: $2.0 billion (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—petroleum products 56%, coffee, cocoa, timber, manufactures; partners—EC (particularly the Netherlands) about 50%, US 3%

Imports: $2.3 billion (c.i.f., 1988); commodities—machines and electrical equipment, transport equipment, chemical products, consumer goods; partners—France 42%, Japan 7%, US 4%

External debt: $4.9 billion (December 1989 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate -6.4% (FY87)

Electricity: 752,000 kW capacity; 2,940 million kWh produced, 270 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: crude oil products, small aluminum plant, food processing, light consumer goods industries, sawmills

Agriculture: the agriculture and forestry sectors provide employment for the majority of the population, contributing nearly 25% to GDP and providing a high degree of self-sufficiency in staple foods; commercial and food crops include coffee, cocoa, timber, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, livestock, root starches

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $400 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $3.9 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $29 million; Communist countries (1970-88), $120 million

Currency: Communauté Financière Africaine franc (plural—francs); 1 CFA franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Communauté Financière Africaine francs (CFAF) per US$1—287.99 (January 1990), 319.01 (1989), 297.85 (1988), 300.54 (1987), 346.30 (1986), 449.26 (1985)

Fiscal year: 1 July-30 June


Railroads: 1,003 km total; 858 km 1.000-meter gauge, 145 km 0.600-meter gauge

Highways: about 65,000 km total; includes 2,682 km bituminous, 30,000 km unimproved earth, 32,318 km gravel, earth, and improved earth

Inland waterways: 2,090 km; of decreasing importance

Ports: Douala

Merchant marine: 2 cargo ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 24,122 GRT/33,509 DWT

Civil air: 5 major transport aircraft

Airports: 61 total, 54 usable; 10 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 5 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 22 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: good system of open wire, cable, troposcatter, and radio relay; 26,000 telephones; stations—10 AM, 1 FM, 1 TV; 2 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth stations

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force; paramilitary Gendarmerie

Military manpower: males 15-49, 2,553,867; 1,286,831 fit for military service; 121,773 reach military age (18) annually

Defense expenditures: 1.7% of GDP, or $219 million (1990 est.)