Cameroon Facts
Cameroon Facts

54 Interesting Facts about Cameroon

By Tayja Kuligowski, Junior Writer
Published October 26, 2017
  • In the early 2000s, scientists found strong evidence that Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) originated from chimpanzees in a southeastern corner of Cameroon. They speculate a human first acquired the virus in 1908 while killing an infected chimpanzee for bushmeat.[22]
  • About 4.77% of the adult population, or 657,500 Cameroonians, are infected with HIV/AIDS. In 2014, HIV/AIDS was responsible for 34,200 deaths.[1]
  • The forest in Korup National Park is Africa's oldest remaining forest at over 60 million years old. It has over 1,000 known species, including over 90 species of plants with medicinal value. One such plant, Ancistrocladus korupensis, may be able to fight HIV and cancer.[24]
  • Waza National Park is the most visited park in Cameroon, allowing visitors to see lions, hippopotamuses, monkeys, giraffes, buffalo, elephants, and more.[24]
  • Cameroon has more than 1,000 species of butterfly—more than a quarter of all species found in Africa.[24]
  • Cameroon Orphans
    AIDS have left many children as orphans
  • AIDS has left about 300,000 Cameroonian children orphaned, and as many as 45,000 out of Cameroon's 9,142,000 children are infected with HIV.[19]
  • The goliath frog is the largest frog in the world, and is only found in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. The frog weighs about the same as a domestic house cat, and reaches up to a foot long.[10][24]
  • To help dissuade illegal poaching, Cameroon’s government burned over 2,000 tusks and 1,753 ivory objects seized for a total of 3.5 tons of ivory. The ivory was destroyed to keep it off of the black market. Over 600 firearms and 3,000 pieces of ammunition were also seized in an effort to protect elephant populations.[20][21]
  • At 184,000 square miles (475,440 sq km), Cameroon is slightly larger than the state of California, or twice the size of the United Kingdom and is home to over 200 ethnic groups.[23][24]
  • Cameroon has a large population of Christians and Muslims, but 40% of Cameroonians still practice traditional religions and many believe in witchcraft. For example, the Baba village hired a witch hunter in 2001 after believing an outbreak of meningitis responsible for an average of 10 deaths per week was the work of witches and wizards.[23][24]
  • In some Cameroonian tribes, diviners are thought to have special skills to divine supernatural aspects of life. Spider diviners create small shrines with symbolic cards at the entrance of earth spider burrows. Upon tempting the spider out with bait, a diviner determines a person's fortune by reading the cards based on how the spider disrupts their arrangement.[23]
  • The oldest inhabitants of Cameroon are thought to be the Baka, a tribe of hunter-gatherers living in the forests. Because they are 4 feet 9 inches tall on average, Baka are often mislabeled as Pygmies. Most Baka find the term Pygmy to be offensive and take it as a sign of ignorance or misunderstanding of their people and culture.[23][24]
  • Cameroon's national soccer/football team, the Indomitable Lions, has qualified for FIFA competitions six times, more than any other African team. In 1990, they became the first team in Africa to make it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup, and they went on to win the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.[23]
  • Cameroon is a football country--children are born playing football.

    - Roger Milla

  • The Bamileke of Cameroon exhume and honor the skulls of their ancestors with singing and dancing two years after the initial burial. They believe the skulls hold the ancestral spirit, which has the power to bring good or bad fortune. The skulls are often kept close to family members, such as inside the floor of the home.[24]
  • A Bamileke village in Cameroon generally has a “fon,” or king. The fon is thought to have supernatural powers, including the ability to turn into a lion, elephant, buffalo, or leopard. He also holds the right to marry many wives and may have upward of 150 queens as well as several hundreds of children.[24]
  • As pastoral cattle herders, the Fulani of Cameroon place great value on their livestock. They will often put the health of their cattle before their own, and social status is determined by the number of cattle a person possesses.[23][24]
  • The Fulani of Cameroon practice an initiation ceremony that involves lashing young boys with sticks to leave distinctive scarring to show that they have come of age.[24]
  • In some Cameroon villages "breast ironing" is practiced. This practice mutilates a young girl's breasts, which is thought to stop their development and ward off advancement by boys who associate breast development with a signal that the girl is ready for intercourse.[19]
  • Cameroon Slave Trade
    Cameroon was a hub of the slave trade
  • During the 18th century, Cameroon and Nigeria's coasts were hubs for the African slave trade. About 20,000 men and women were taken from their shores each year.[24]
  • In much of Cameroon, marriages are still arranged, although this tradition has been fading in recent years. The groom is expected to provide a dowry to his bride or her family, which may consist of goods such as palm wine, an animal, or bushmeat. A man can take multiple wives if he can pay the dowry for each bride.[4][23][24]
  • Three out of four Cameroonians live on and work their own land, and Cameroon provides 90% of its own food. Being self-sufficient is one of the reasons Cameroon is more economically stable than many of the other countries on the African continent.[23]
  • Homosexuality is illegal in Cameroon, and public homosexual acts can receive anywhere from 6 months to 5 years in prison as punishment. Contributing to the lack of acceptance of the homosexual community is a pervading belief that homosexuals are cursed or bewitched.[24]
  • Due to its favorable geographic position, wealth of natural resources, and relative political stability, Cameroon has one of the most diverse and prosperous economies in Africa, making up half of the gross domestic product of all countries in Central Africa. However, the economy is still relatively poor on a worldwide scale due to corruption, a poor distribution of wealth, and the destruction of forests.[9][23]
  • The Internet security company McAfee rated Cameroon's web domain (.cm) as the world's riskiest domain. About 36.7% of Cameroon websites are ranked as posing a security risk, with cybercriminals targeting the sites for malicious downloads, spyware, adware, and other unwanted programs.[24]
  • Transparency International ranks Cameroon as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. In 2006, the organization rated Cameroon 138th of 163 in its Corruptions Perception Index.[24]
  • Cameroon is often referred to as “Africa in miniature,” as it offers all of the terrains found in the continent, including rain forest, desert, swamp, and savannah. Other nicknames include "the melting pot of Africa" and "Africa in microcosm."[24]
  • Cameroon Geography
    Cameroon is home to stunning diversity

  • Cameroon's current president, Paul Biya, won an impressive 99.98% of votes in the presidential election of 1984 and 98.75% of votes in the election of 1988. However, due to political laws he put in place, Biya was the only candidate running.[17]
  • In September 2012, Cameroon's Prime Minister Marafa Hamidou Yaya was jailed for embezzling $29 million for a down payment on a presidential plane.[11]
  • About 80% of Cameroon's indigenous forests are allocated for logging, and it loses 850 square miles of forest each year due to deforestation and agriculture. Destruction of Cameroon’s rainforests may have led to drought in Africa's interior, but as the Cameroonian government receives $60 million annually from logging, this practice is unlikely to change anytime soon.[11][23][24]
  • Cameroon is the 6th largest producer of cocoa beans in the world, earning $600 million from cocoa exports in 2010 alone. It is also an exporter of timber, petroleum products, coffee, cotton, tea, rubber, peanuts, and bananas.[5][10][23]
  • The average minimum wage of a Cameroonian is $44 per month. About 50% of the population of Cameroon makes less than $2 per day.[24]
  • About 50% of Cameroon's children live below the poverty line, and an estimated 55,000 under the age of 5 suffer from acute malnutrition. Around 52,000 Cameroonian children die from malnutrition every year.[19]
  • Lake Nyos Fact
    Lake Nyos is one of only three lakes in the world known to be saturated with carbon dioxide
  • Lake Nyos in Cameroon holds the world record for the highest number of non-drowning deaths of any lake in the world. On August 21, 1986, the crater lake erupted carbon dioxide, killing over 1,800 people and 3,500 livestock within a 15.5-mile (25 km) radius. Two years earlier, Cameroon's Lake Monoun had a similar eruption that asphyxiated 37 people.[14][24]
  • About 1.3 million Cameroonian children have lost one or both parents.[10]
  • About 160 children in every 1,000 are likely to die before the age of 5 in Cameroon.[10]
  • In Cameroon, malaria is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths of children under the age of 5.[10]
  • Cameroon reported 1.8 million cases of malaria in the year 2009.j[10]
  • Cameroon has fewer than 2 doctors for every 10,000 people.[10]
  • Only 44% of Cameroon's population has access to safe drinking water, and bottled water is by far the safest water option in the country.[19][13]
  • The average life expectancy of a Cameroonian is 55 years, which is 0.7 times shorter than the world average of 74 years.[6]
  • Traffic accidents claim an average of 4,700 victims per year on Cameroonian streets. In 2015 alone, 7,000 were wounded or disabled, for an average of 12 victims per day. Many of the accidents occur due to poor roads and high speeds.[18]
  • On April 18, 2016, a vehicle in the convoy of the United States ambassador to the United Nations hit and killed a 7-year-old boy in Cameroon. The ambassador was the first cabinet-level official to visit the country since 1991 and had arrived to showcase American efforts to help protect West Africa's women and children.[15]
  • Douala's beaches in Cameroon have chocolate-brown sand from volcanic, dark igneous rock particles.[10]
  • Cameroon is the only country in the world named after a crustacean. In 1472, Portuguese explorer Fernando Po named the country “Rio dos Camaroes,” which means “River of Prawns” after he saw the immense number of shrimp in the country's Wouri River. Cameroon is the English spelling.[1][23]
  • Cameroon Etymology
    Cameroon was originally named "Shrimp River"

  • While the official languages of Cameroon are French and English, the country is home to about 280 endemic languages. In one day, a Cameroonian may need to use up to six different languages.[23]
  • Much of Western Cameroon's English-speaking population wishes to either have a decentralized federal structure that separates each Cameroonian province into its own governed system, or secession from Eastern French-speaking Cameroon.[24]
  • The German colony of Kamerun, first established in 1884, became French Cameroon and British Cameroons when World War I British, French, and Belgian troops drove out the Germans in 1916. After the Treaty of Versailles and a 1919 League of Nations mandate, 80% of Cameroon was officially granted to France, while the remaining Western territory was awarded to Britain.[2]
  • Uprisings for independence earned Eastern Cameroon partial self-government from France in 1957. Cameroon finally gained its independence on January 1, 1960. The Southern British Cameroons overwhelmingly voted to join the former French Cameroons, creating the Federal Republic of Cameroon in 1961. The Northern British Cameroons voted to become a part of the newly independent Nigeria.[8][16]
  • A 1972 revision in Cameroon's constitution to unite Eastern and Western Cameroon under one government changed the official title from the Federal Republic of Cameroon to the United Republic of Cameroon. President Paul Biya changed the name once again in 1984 to the Republic of Cameroon, stating that the people of Cameroon have long been united, making the word "United" unnecessary.[8][23]
  • Disputes with Nigeria over border regions came to a head in the early 1990s, particularly over the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula, and under UN negotiations, the countries exchanged over 200 prisoners of war. Nigeria surrendered the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon in 2008 after the International Court of Justice decided mostly in Cameroon’s favor. However, attackers dressed in Nigerian troop garb killed 5 people at an offshore oil platform on the peninsula in 2010.[2][24]
  • Mount Cameroon Fact
    Mount Cameroon is also known as Mongo ma Ndemi , or "Mountain of Greatness"
  • Mount Cameroon is not only the highest peak in West Africa, but it is also an active volcano. The volcano has erupted 7 times in the past 100 years, the most recent being a three-week period in the year 2000. Many Cameroonians believe the mountain's inner core is home to powerful ancestral spirits, including a mountain god who causes the ground to shake and spit fire when angered.[24]
  • In 2008, 50,000 refugees fled into Cameroon from Chad. As of 2016, Cameroon also holds 259,145 refugees from Central African Republic and 64,891 refugees from Nigeria.[1][24]
  • In 2015, the Islamic extremist terrorist group Boko Haram killed about 1,000 people in Cameroon through suicide bombings and other attacks. In 2016, Boko Haram murdered 50 people in Northern Cameroon from January 25 to February 10 through suicide bombings alone.h,o[7][12]
  • Islamic militant group Boko Haram has kidnapped over 30 people from Cameroon near the northern border. Many of the targeted victims are foreign nationals, including French national Tanguy Moulin-Fournier and his four children, along with other family members. Most of the victims have been recovered by negotiations performed by Cameroon's government.[3]
  • Cameroon Timeline
    Important DatesEvents
    8,000 BCBakas migrate to present-day Cameroon
    200 BCBantu tribes arrive from Nigeria
    1472Portuguese explorers become first Europeans to visit
    1520Portuguese settlers begin plantations and the slave trade
    1600sDutch settlers take over the slave trade
    1800sNomadic Fulani settle in the Northern region
    1845British missionairies create a Baptist station
    1870sAnti-malaria drug quinine becomes more readily available, allowing for inland exploration by European settlers
    1871American missionaries create the Presbyterian Mission
    1884Cameroon becomes a German protectorate
    1916British, French, and Belgian troops drive Germans out of Cameroon
    1919League of Nations grants France and Britain control of Cameroon
    1945United Nations renews Britain and France's rule as trust territories
    1955Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (UPC) begins an armed struggle for independence from France
    1956French officials ban the UPC
    1957French officials establish a self-government system for Cameroon
    1960French Cameroon gains independence as the Republic of Cameroon; Ahmadou Ahidjo becomes president
    1961The Southern British Cameroons vote to join the Republic of Cameroon, forming the Federal Republic of Cameroon; Northern British Cameroons votes to join Nigeria
    1966Ahidjo outlaws all polical parties except for his own
    1972Cameroon changes from a federal government to a unitary government and becomes the United Republic of Cameroon
    1982Paul Biya becomes president of Cameroon
    1983Ahidjo goes into exile after accusations of coup involvement
    1984Cameroon elects Biya as president; Biya changes the country's name to the Republic of Cameroon; a coup attempt kills 500 to 1,00 government forces; Lake Monoun erupts natural gas, killing 37 people
    1986Lake Nyos erupts natural gas, killing more than 1,700 people and 3,500 livestock
    1988Biya re-elected as president
    1989Ahidjo dies of a heart attack in exile in France
    1990Law changes to permit opposing political parties; Cameroon's national soccer team becomes the first African team to reach the World Cup quarterfinals
    1992Biya re-elected as president
    1995Cameroon joins the Commonwealth
    1996Cameroon and Nigeria seek United Nations mediation for border territory disputes over the Bakassi Peninsula and other regions
    1998Transparency International names Cameroon the most corrupt country in the world; Cameroon and Nigeria exchange over 200 prisoners of war
    2002The International Court of Justice (ICJ) grants the Bakassi Peninsula and other regions along the Nigerian border to Cameroon; Cameroon joins the United Nations Security Council
    2003Nigeria grants 32 villages to Cameroon in the ICJ border deal
    2004Bija re-elected as president; Nigeria fails to meet ICJ border deadline
    2006Nigeria withdraws troops from the Bakassi Peninsula
    2008Nigeria officially grants Cameroon the Bakassi Peninsula under the ICJ border deal
    2010People dressed as Nigerian troops attack an offshore oil platform on the Bakassi Peninsula, resulting in 5 deaths
    2011Biya re-elected as president
    2012Poachers slaughter hundreds of elephants in Bouba Njida National Park
References

1"Africa: Cameroon." The World Fact Book. Updated April 5, 2016. Accessed: April 21, 2016.

2Benneh, George. "Cameroon." Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2016. Accessed: April 19, 2016.

3Caldwell, Mark. "Cameroon: U.S. Vows to Back Anti-Boko Haram Fight While Bishops Call for Talks." All Africa, April 19, 2016. Accessed: April 20, 2016.

4"Cameroon." Countries and Their Cultures, 2016. Accessed: April 21, 2016.

5"Cameroon." Encylopedia.com, 2016. Accessed: April 21, 2016.

6"Cameroon." Find the Data, 2016. Accessed: April 19, 2016.

7"Cameroon." Gov.UK. Updated March 4, 2016. Accessed: April 21, 2016.

8"Cameroon: History." The Commonwealth, 2016. Accessed: April 20, 2016.

9"Cameroon." Nations Online, 2016. Accessed: April 21, 2016.

10"Cameroon." Our Africa. Accessed: April 18, 2016.

11"Cameroon Profile - Timeline." BBC News, June 16, 2015. Accessed: April 20, 2016.

12"Cameroon Says 92 Boko Haram Militants Killed and 850 Captives Freed." The Guardian, February 26, 2016.

13"Cameroon Travel Guide." World Travel Guide. Updated April 20, 2016. Accessed: April 21, 2016.

14"Cameroon." World Atlas. Updated November 17, 2015. Accessed: April 21, 2016.

15Cooper, Helene. "Vehicle in Convoy of U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Kills Boy in Cameroon." The New York Times, April 18, 2016. Accessed: April 19, 2016.

16Gascoigne, Bamber. "History of Cameroon." History World, 2001. Accessed: April 19, 2016.

17"History of Cameroon." Global Conscience Initiative, 2016. Accessed: April 20, 2016.

18Jator, Christopher. "Cameroon: Curbing Child Road Accident Injuries." All Africa, April 20, 2016.

19"Life in Cameroon." African Volunteer Network, 2016. Accessed: April 20, 2016.

20Nfor, Victorine Biy. "Cameroon: Elephant Poaching - Government Incinerates Tusks, to Step Up Fight." All Africa, April 20, 2016. Accessed: April 20, 2016.

21———.Cameroon: Poaching - Government to Destroy 2,000 Elephant Tusks." All Africa, April 17, 2016. Accessed: April 20, 2016.

22Quammen, David. The Chimp and the River. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2015.

23Sheehan, Sean and Josie Elias. Cameroon. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark. 2011.

24West, Ben. Cameroon. Guilford, CT: The Globe Pequot Press Inc. 2011.

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