Cameroon

Cameroon

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Overview

Cameroon has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. However, the country’s progress is hampered by a level of corruption that is among the highest in the world.

cameroon

 

Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon (French: République du Cameroun), is a country in the west Central Africa region. 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’s coastline lies on the Bight of Bonny, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. The country is often referred to as “Africa in miniature” for its geological and cultural diversity. Natural features include beaches, deserts, mountains, rainforests, and savannas. The highest point is Mount Cameroon in the southwest, and the largest cities are Douala, Yaoundé and Garoua. Cameroon is home to over 200 different linguistic groups. The country is well known for its native styles of music, particularly makossa and bikutsi, and for its successful national football team. French and English are the official languages.

The modern state of Cameroon was created in 1961 by the unification of two former colonies, one British and one French. Since then it has struggled from one-party rule to a multi-party system in which the freedom of expression is severely limited. 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. In 1982 Mr Ahidjo was succeeded by his prime minister, Paul Biya. Faced with popular discontent, Mr Biya allowed multi-party presidential elections in 1992, which he won.

The President of Cameroon has broad, unilateral powers to create policy, administer government agencies, command the armed forces, negotiate and ratify treaties, and declare a state of emergency. The president appoints government officials at all levels, from the prime minister (considered the official head of government), to the provincial governors and divisional officers. The president is selected by popular vote every seven years.
Corruption is rife at all levels of government. In 1997, Cameroon established anti-corruption bureaus in 29 ministries, but only 25 percent became operational, and in 2011, Transparency International placed Cameroon at number 134 on a list of 183 countries ranked from least to most corrupt. On 18 January 2006, Biya initiated an anti-corruption drive under the direction of the National Anti-Corruption Observatory.
Cameroon’s legal system is largely based on French civil law with common law influences.[1] Although nominally independent, the judiciary falls under the authority of the executive’s Ministry of Justice. The president appoints judges at all levels. The judiciary is officially divided into tribunals, the court of appeal, and the supreme court. The National Assembly elects the members of a nine-member High Court of Justice that judges high-ranking members of government in the event they are charged with high treason or harming national security.
Human rights organisations accuse police and military forces of mistreating and even torturing criminal suspects, ethnic minorities, homosexuals, and political activists.[33] Prisons are overcrowded with little access to adequate food and medical facilities,[34][35] and prisons run by traditional rulers in the north are charged with holding political opponents at the behest of the government.[36] However, since the first decade of the 21st century, an increasing number of police and gendarmes have been prosecuted for improper conduct.

The Situation

In 2001, the literacy rate of Cameroon was estimated to be 67.9 percent (77% for males and 59.8% for females). Most children have access to state-run schools that are cheaper than private and religious facilities. The educational system is a mixture of British and French precedents[45] with most instruction in English or French. Cameroon has one of the highest school attendance rates in Africa. Girls attend school less regularly than boys do because of cultural attitudes, domestic duties, early marriage and pregnancy, and sexual harassment. Although attendance rates are higher in the south, a disproportionate number of teachers are stationed there, leaving northern schools chronically understaffed.

Cameroon’s per-capita GDP (Purchasing power parity) was estimated as US$2,300 in 2008,[73] one of the ten highest in sub-Saharan Africa.[74] Major export markets include France, Italy, South Korea, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Cameroon is aiming to become an emerging country by 2035.
Cameroon has had a decade of strong economic performance, with GDP growing at an average of 4 percent per year. During the 2004–2008 period, public debt was reduced from over 60 percent of GDP to 10 percent and official reserves quadrupled to over USD 3 billion. Cameroon is part of the Bank of Central African States (of which it is the dominant economy), the Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa (UDEAC) and the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA). Its currency is the CFA franc.
Unemployment was estimated at 30 percent in 2001, and about a third of the population was living below the international poverty threshold of US$1.25 a day in 2009. Since the late 1980s, Cameroon has been following programmes advocated by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reduce poverty, privatise industries, and increase economic growth. The government has taken measures to encourage tourism in the country.
Cameroon’s natural resources are very well suited to agriculture and arboriculture. An estimated 70 percent of the population farms, and agriculture comprised an estimated 19.8 percent of GDP in 2009. Most agriculture is done at the subsistence scale by local farmers using simple tools. They sell their surplus produce, and some maintain separate fields for commercial use. Urban centres are particularly reliant on peasant agriculture for their foodstuffs. Soils and climate on the coast encourage extensive commercial cultivation of bananas, cocoa, oil palms, rubber, and tea. Inland on the South Cameroon Plateau, cash crops include coffee, sugar, and tobacco. Coffee is a major cash crop in the western highlands, and in the north, natural conditions favour crops such as cotton, groundnuts, and rice. Reliance on agricultural exports makes Cameroon vulnerable to shifts in their prices.

Fun Trivia Facts
  • Full name: Republic of Cameroon
  • Population: 20 million (UN, 2012)
  • Capital: Yaounde
  • Area: 475,442 sq km (183,568 sq miles)
  • Major languages: French, English, languages of Bantu, Semi-Bantu and Sudanic groups
  • Major religions: Christianity, Islam, indigenous beliefs
  • Life expectancy: 51 years (men), 54 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes
  • Main exports: Crude oil and petroleum products, timber, cocoa, aluminium, coffee, cotton
  • GNI per capita: US $1,210 (World Bank, 2011)
  • Internet domain: .cm
  • International dialling code: +237
Tree logging in Cameroon
Tree logging in Cameroon
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