Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon (French: République du Cameroun), is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south.
Cameroon has been called "Africa in miniature." It is characterized by exceptional social and ethnic diversity. The country has more than 250 identifiable ethnic groups. Its political experiences are equally varied, having been ruled directly by Germany, Great Britain, and France and indirectly by the League of Nations and the United Nations.
Not only is Cameroon like the rest of the continent endowed with acknowledged human and natural resources, but it also enjoys, more than most other African countries, relative peace and stability by virtue of the fact that it is one of the continent's very few countries that have not experienced the trauma of coup d'etats and military rule. Yet, in spite of the availability of resources, peace and stability, factors that are conducive to development, Cameroon is as stagnating in its development process as other African countries.
From as long ago as around 8000BC, Cameroon has received countless human migrations and become home to a very varied range of cultural, tribal, linguistic and cultural groups - such as Puels from the coast of Guinea; Fulani and Arab people from western Sudan; and Bantus from the Congo. The earliest inhabitants of the country were likely to have been the Bakas and other ethno-linguistic groups of short stature (commonly but strictly incorrectly known as 'Pygmies'), some of whom still inhabit the forests of the South and East regions. They were forced into the forests by Bantu-speaking peoples originating from the Cameroonian Western Highlands, the Sahel and Nigerian Plateau in around 200BC.
Although opposition to colonial rule was expressed from its onset, it was only after World War II that internal developments in Cameroon and Europe and changes in the world attitude toward colonialism were powerful enough to bring about independence. In British Cameroons the major question for the public was whether to remain with Nigeria or to rejoin Cameroun. In a United Nations-supervised plebiscite, Southern Cameroons decided to reunify with French Cameroun to become the Federal Republic of Cameroon. Northen Cameroons voted to join the Federation of Nigeria.
It is claimed that 300 distinct languages are spoken in Cameroon in addition to the official languages, English and French, the highly respected language of Islam, Arabic, the most widely used intra-ethnic communication system, Pidgin English (CamP), and such African languages of wider communication as Bassa, Bulu, Douala, Ewondo, Mungaka and Hausa. The ratio of 300+ languages for a population of just over seven million puts Cameroon among the most multilingual nations of earth.
Cameroon began its independence with a bloody insurrection which was suppressed only with the help of French forces. There followed 20 years of repressive government under President Ahmadou Ahidjo. Nonetheless, Cameroon saw investment in agriculture, education, health care and transport.
Cameroon’s main development challenge is to stimulate growth and to ensure dividends are equitably shared among the population in order to reduce poverty. The World Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy in Cameroon focuses on increasing Cameroon’s competitiveness and improving service delivery.
With the expansion of oil, timber, and coffee exports, the economy has continued to improve, although corruption is prevalent, and environmental degradation remains a concern. In June 2000 the World Bank agreed to provide more than $200 million to build a $3.7 billion pipeline connecting the oil fields in neighboring Chad with the Cameroon coast. In Aug. 2006 Nigeria turned over the disputed oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon—Nigeria had been resisting the World Court ruling since 2002.
Despite strong civil rights on the books, the government recurrently infringes upon rights and liberties in practice. Discrimination against women, homosexuals and indigenous peoples is pervasive. Criticism of the president, ranking officials or the government at large continues to be met by harassment and physical force by the government. Similarly, the rights to assemble and of association are often curtailed according to ideology and political alignment.
Ahidjo, relying on a pervasive internal security apparatus, outlawed all political parties but his own in 1966 ... 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.