In Togo, there are about 40 different ethnic groups, the most numerous of which are the Ewe in the south who make up 32% of the population.(Although along the southern coastline they account for 21% of the population), Kotokoli or Tem and Tchamba in the center, Kabye people in the north (22%). The Ouatchis are (14%) of the population(SONY PCG-5G2L battery). Sometimes the Ewes and Ouatchis are considered the same, but the French who studied both groups considered them different people. Other Ethnic groups include the Mina, Mossi, and Aja people (about 8%). There is also a European population who make up less than 1%.
Approximately 51% of the population has indigenous beliefs, 29% is Christian, and 20% Muslim. (SONY PCG-5G3L battery)
Main article: Languages of Togo
French is the official language of Togo and is the language of commerce. The many indigenous African languages spoken by Togolese include: Gbe languages such as Ewe and Mina (the two major African languages in the south), Kabiyé (in the north), as well as Kotokoli or Tem, Aja, Akessele, Bassar, Losso, and others(SONY PCG-F305 battery).
Health expenditure was at US$ 63 (PPP) per capita in 2004. The infant mortality rate is approximately 50 deaths per 1,000 children in 2012. Male life expectancy at birth was at 60.6 in 2012, whereas it was at 65.8 for females. There were 4 physicians per 100,000 people in the early 2000s. Approximately one half of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day(SONY PCG-5J1L battery).
As of 2010, the maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Togo is 350, compared with 447.1 in 2008 and 539.7 in 1990. The under 5 mortality rate, per 1,000 births is 100 and the neonatal mortality as a percentage of under 5's mortality is 32. In Togo the number of midwives per 1,000 live births is 2 and 1 in 67 shows us the lifetime risk of death for pregnant women. (SONY PCG-5J2L battery)
Education in Togo is compulsory for six years. In 1996, the gross primary enrollment rate was 119.6%, and the net primary enrollment rate was 81.3%. The education system has suffered from teacher shortages, lower educational quality in rural areas, and high repetition and dropout rates. (SONY PCG-5K2L battery)
Main articles: Culture of Togo and Music of Togo
Traditional Taberma houses
Togo's culture reflects the influences of its many ethnic groups, the largest and most influential of which are the Ewe, Mina, Tem, Tchamba and Kabre.
Despite the influences of Christianity and Islam, over half of the people of Togo follow native animistic practices and beliefs.
Ewe statuary is characterized by its famous statuettes which illustrate the worship of the ibeji. Sculptures and hunting trophies were used rather than the more ubiquitous African masks. The wood-carvers of Kloto are famous for their "chains of marriage"(SONY PCG-5L1L battery): two characters are connected by rings drawn from only one piece of wood.
The dyed fabric batiks of the artisanal center of Kloto represent stylized and coloured scenes of ancient everyday life. The loincloths used in the ceremonies of the weavers of Assahoun are famous. Works of the painter Sokey Edorh are inspired by the immense arid extents, swept by the harmattan, and where the laterite keeps the prints of the men and the animals(SONY PCG-6S2L battery). The plastics technician Paul Ahyi is internationally recognized today. He practices the "zota", a kind of pyroengraving, and his monumental achievements decorate Lomé.
In Togo, breakfast normally consists of a porridge called aklui zogbon that is eaten with a doughnut tasting round ball called botoquoin. For lunch, they have white rice and tomato sauce with a side of chicken and or fish. (SONY PCG-6S3L battery) In daily life, many Togolese indulge in a staple called akoemhe or akume, as the natives call it. La Pate are essentially balls of rice or corn that are mashed into a white dough-like paste. Akoemhe is eaten because it is extremely filling, so the Togolese eat it with several different sauces to give it flavour and variety. (SONY PCG-6V1L battery)
Main article: Togo at the Olympics
On 12 August 2008, Benjamin Boukpeti (born to a Togolese father and a French mother) won a bronze medal in the Men's K1 Kayak Slalom, the first medal ever won by a member of the Togolese team at the Olympics.
As in much of Africa, soccer is the most popular sporting pursuit. Until 2006, Togo was very much a minor force in world football, but like fellow West African nations such as Senegal, Nigeria and Cameroon before them, the Togolese national team finally qualified for the World Cup(SONY PCG-6W1L battery).
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's coastline lies on the Bight of Bonny(SONY PCG-7111L battery), part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. The country is called "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(SONY PCG-71511M battery). 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.
Early inhabitants of the territory included the Sao civilisation around Lake Chad and the Baka hunter-gatherers in the southeastern rainforest. Portuguese explorers reached the coast in the 15th century and named the area Rio dos Camarões, the name from which Cameroon derives. Fulani[(SONY PCG-6W3L battery) soldiers founded the Adamawa Emirate in the north in the 19th century, and various ethnic groups of the west and northwest established powerful chiefdoms and fondoms. Cameroon became a German colony in 1884.
After World War I, the territory was divided between France and Britain as League of Nations mandates. The Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC) political party advocated independence, but was outlawed by France in the 1950s(SONY PCG-7113L battery). It waged war on French and UPC militant forces until 1971. In 1960, the French-administered part of Cameroon became independent as the Republic of Cameroun under President Ahmadou Ahidjo. The southern part of British Cameroons merged with it in 1961 to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The country was renamed the United Republic of Cameroon in 1972 and the Republic of Cameroon in 1984(SONY PCG-7133L battery).
Compared to other African countries, Cameroon enjoys relatively high political and social stability. This has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, railways, and large petroleum and timber industries. Nevertheless, large numbers of Cameroonians live in poverty as subsistence farmers. Power lies firmly in the hands of the authoritarian president since 1982(SONY PCG-7Z1L battery), Paul Biya, and his Cameroon People's Democratic Movement party. The English-speaking territories of Cameroon have grown increasingly alienated from the government, and politicians from those regions have called for greater decentralization and even secession (for example: the Southern Cameroons National Council) of the former British-governed territories(SONY PCG-7Z2L battery) .
The territory of present day Cameroon was first settled during the Neolithic. The longest continuous inhabitants are groups such as the Baka (Pygmies). From here, Bantu migrations into eastern, southern, and central Africa are believed to have originated about 2,000 years ago. The Sao culture arose around Lake Chad c. AD 500 and gave way to the Kanem and its successor state, the Bornu empire. Kingdoms, fondoms(SONY PCG-8Y1L battery), and chiefdoms arose in the west.
Portuguese sailors reached the coast in 1472. They noted an abundance of the mud lobster Lepidophthalmus turneranus in the Wouri River and named it Rio dos Camarões, and the phrase from which Cameroon is derived. Over the following few centuries, European interests regularised trade with the coastal peoples(SONY PCG-8Y2L battery), and Christian missionaries pushed inland. In the early 19th century, Modibo Adama led Fulani soldiers on a jihad in the north against non-Muslim and partially Muslim peoples and established the Adamawa Emirate. Settled peoples who fled the Fulani caused a major redistribution of population. The northern part of Cameroon was an important part of the Muslim slave trade network. (SONY PCG-8Z2L battery)
The Bamum people have an indigenous writing system, known as Bamum script or Shu Mom. The script was developed by Sultan Ibrahim Njoya in 1896, and is taught in Cameroon by the Bamum Scripts and Archives Project. The German Empire claimed the territory as the colony of Kamerun in 1884 and began a steady push inland. They initiated projects to improve the colony's infrastructure, relying on a harsh system of forced labour. (SONY PCG-8Z1L battery) With the defeat of Germany in World War I, Kamerun became a League of Nations mandate territory and was split into French Cameroun and British Cameroons in 1919. France integrated the economy of Cameroun with that of France and improved the infrastructure with capital investments, skilled workers, and continued forced labour. (SONY PCG-7112L battery)
The British administered their territory from neighbouring Nigeria. Natives complained that this made them a neglected "colony of a colony". Nigerian migrant workers flocked to Southern Cameroons, ending forced labour but angering indigenous peoples. The League of Nations mandates were converted into United Nations Trusteeships in 1946, and the question of independence became a pressing issue in French Cameroun. (SONY PCG-6W2L battery) France outlawed the most radical political party, the Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC), on 13 July 1955. This prompted a long guerrilla war and the assassination of the party's leader, Ruben Um Nyobé, near Boumnyébel, the village where he was born. In British Cameroons, the question was whether to reunify with French Cameroun or join Nigeria(SONY PCG-5K1L battery).
Ahmadou Ahidjo arrives at Washington, D.C., in July 1982.
On 1 January 1960 at 2:30 am, French Cameroun gained independence from France under President Ahmadou Ahidjo. On 1 October 1961, the formerly British Southern Cameroons united with French Cameroun to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. Ahidjo used the ongoing war with the UPC to concentrate power in the presidency, continuing with this even after the suppression of the UPC in 1971. (SONY VGP-BPS13 battery)
His political party, the Cameroon National Union (CNU), became the sole legal political party on 1 September 1966 and in 1972, the federal system of government was abolished in favour of a United Republic of Cameroon, headed from Yaoundé. Ahidjo pursued an economic policy of planned liberalism, prioritising cash crops and petroleum exploitation(SONY VGP-BPS13Q battery). The government used oil money to create a national cash reserve, pay farmers, and finance major development projects; however, many initiatives failed when Ahidjo appointed unqualified allies to direct them.
Ahidjo stepped down on 4 November 1982 and left power to his constitutional successor, Paul Biya. However, Ahidjo remained in control of the CNU and tried to run the country from behind the scenes until Biya and his allies pressured him into resigning(SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q battery). Biya began his administration by moving toward a more democratic government, but a failed coup d'état nudged him toward the leadership style of his predecessor.
An economic crisis took effect in the mid-1980s to late 1990s as a result of international economic conditions, drought, falling petroleum prices, and years of corruption, mismanagement, and cronyism(SONY VGP-BPS13B/Q battery). Cameroon turned to foreign aid, cut government spending, and privatised industries. With the reintroduction of multi-party politics in December 1990, the former British Cameroons pressure groups called for greater autonomy, with some (SCNC) advocating complete secession as the Republic of Ambazonia. In February 2008, Cameroon experienced its worst violence in 15 years when a transport union strike in Douala escalated into violent protests in 31 municipal areas(SONY VGP-BPS13/B battery).
President Paul Biya of Cameroon and Ambassador R. Niels Marquardt of the United States, 16 February 2006.
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(SONY VGP-BPS13B/B battery), divisional officers, and urban-council members in large cities. The president is selected by popular vote every seven years. In smaller municipalities, the public elects mayors and councilors.
Corruption is rife at all levels of government. In 1997, Cameroon established anti-corruption bureaus in 29 ministries, but only 25% became operational, and in 2011, Transparency International placed Cameroon at number 134 on a list of 183 countries ranked(SONY VGP-BPS13A/S battery) 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. Although nominally independent, the judiciary falls under the authority of the executive's Ministry of Justice. (SONY VGP-BPS21A/B battery)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(SONY VGP-BPS21B battery).
A statue of a chief in Bana, West Region, shows the prestige afforded such rulers. The Cameroonian government recognizes the power of traditional authorities provided their rulings do not contradict national law.
Human rights organisations accuse police and military forces of mistreating and even torturing criminal suspects, ethnic minorities, homosexuals, and political activists. Prisons are overcrowded with little access to adequate food and medical facilities(SONY VGP-BPS21 battery), and prisons run by traditional rulers in the north are charged with holding political opponents at the behest of the government. However, since the first decade of the 21st century, an increasing number of police and gendarmes have been prosecuted for improper conduct.
The National Assembly makes legislation. The body consists of 180 members who are elected for five-year terms and meet three times per year(SONY VGP-BPS21/S battery). Laws are passed on a majority vote. Rarely has the assembly changed or blocked legislation proposed by the president. The 1996 constitution establishes a second house of parliament, the 100-seat Senate, but this body has never been put into practice. The government recognises the authority of traditional chiefs, fons, and lamibe to govern at the local level and to resolve disputes as long as such rulings do not conflict with national law(SONY VGP-BPS13AS battery).
President Paul Biya's Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) was the only legal political party until December 1990. Numerous regional political groups have since formed. The primary opposition is the Social Democratic Front (SDF), based largely in the Anglophone region of the country and headed by John Fru Ndi. Biya and his party (SONY VGP-BPS13S battery)have maintained control of the presidency and the National Assembly in national elections, but rivals contend that these have been unfair. Human rights organisations allege that the government suppresses the freedoms of opposition groups by preventing demonstrations, disrupting meetings, and arresting opposition leaders and journalists. Freedom House ranks Cameroon as "not free" (SONY VGP-BPS13B/S battery)in terms of political rights and civil liberties. The last parliamentary elections were held on 22 July 2007.
Cameroon is a member of both the Commonwealth of Nations and La Francophonie. Its foreign policy closely follows that of its main ally, France (the former colonial ruler). The country relies heavily on France for its defence, although military spending is high in comparison to other sectors of government. (SONY VGP-BPS13B/G battery)Biya has clashed with the government of Nigeria over possession of the Bakassi peninsula and with Gabon's president, El Hadj Omar Bongo, over personal rivalries.
Education and health
Main articles: Education in Cameroon and Health in Cameroon
A traditional doctor advertises his services in Tatum, Northwest Region. Such healers are popular alternatives to conventionally trained doctors.
In 2001, the literacy rate of Cameroon was estimated to be 67.9% (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(SONY VGP-BPS14 battery) 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. (SONY VGP-BPL14 battery)
The quality of health care is generally low. Outside the major cities, facilities are often dirty and poorly equipped. Life expectancy at birth is estimated to be 54.71 years in 2012, among the lowest in the world. Endemic diseases include dengue fever, filariasis, leishmaniasis, malaria, meningitis, schistosomiasis, and sleeping sickness. (SONY VGP-BPS14/B battery) The HIV/AIDS seroprevalence rate is estimated at 5.4% for those aged 15–49, although a strong stigma against the illness keeps the number of reported cases artificially low. Traditional healers remain a popular alternative to Western medicine.
Main articles: Regions of Cameroon and Departments of Cameroon
Cameroon is divided into 10 regions.
The constitution divides Cameroon into 10 semi-autonomous regions, each under the administration of an elected Regional Council. A presidential decree of 12 November 2008 officially instigated the change from provinces to regions. (SONY VGP-BPS14/S battery) Each region is headed by a presidentially appointed governor. These leaders are charged with implementing the will of the president, reporting on the general mood and conditions of the regions, administering the civil service, keeping the peace, and overseeing the heads of the smaller administrative units. Governors have broad powers(SONY VGP-BPS14B battery): they may order propaganda in their area and call in the army, gendarmes, and police. All local government officials are employees of the central government’s Ministry of Territorial Administration, from which local governments also get most of their budgets.
The regions are subdivided into 58 divisions (French départements). These are headed by presidentially appointed divisional officers (préfets) (SONY VGP-BPS22 battery), who perform the governors' duties on a smaller scale. The divisions are further sub-divided into sub-divisions (arrondissements), headed by assistant divisional officers (sous-prefets). The districts, administered by district heads (chefs de district), are the smallest administrative units. These are found in large sub-divisions and in regions that are difficult to reach(SONY VGP-BPS22 battery).
The three northernmost regions are the Far North (Extrême Nord), North (Nord), and Adamawa (Adamaoua). Directly south of them are the Centre (Centre) and East (Est). The South Province (Sud) lies on the Gulf of Guinea and the southern border. Cameroon's western region is split into four smaller regions: The Littoral (Littoral) and Southwest (Sud-Ouest) (SONY VGP-BPS18 battery)regions are on the coast, and the Northwest (Nord-Ouest) and West (Ouest) regions are in the western grassfields. The Northwest and Southwest were once part of British Cameroons; the other regions were in French Cameroon.
Main article: Geography of Cameroon
Volcanic plugs dot the landscape near Rhumsiki, Far North Region.
At 475,442 square kilometres (183,569 sq mi), Cameroon is the world's 53rd-largest country. (SONY VGP-BPS22/A battery) It is comparable in size to Papua New Guinea and somewhat larger than the U.S. state of California. The country is located in Central and West Africa on the Bight of Bonny, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. Cameroon lies between latitudes 1° and 13°N, and longitudes 8° and 17°E.
Tourist literature describes Cameroon as "Africa in miniature" because it exhibits all major climates and vegetation of the continent(SONY VGP-BPS22A battery): coast, desert, mountains, rainforest, and savanna. The country's neighbours are 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 is divided into five major geographic zones distinguished by dominant physical, climatic, and vegetative features. The coastal plain extends 15 to 150 kilometres (9 to 93 mi) inland from the Gulf of Guinea(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11S battery) and has an average elevation of 90 metres (295 ft). Exceedingly hot and humid with a short dry season, this belt is densely forested and includes some of the wettest places on earth, part of the Cross-Sanaga-Bioko coastal forests.
The South Cameroon Plateau rises from the coastal plain to an average elevation of 650 metres (2,133 ft). Equatorial rainforest dominates this region, although its alternation between wet and dry seasons makes it is less humid than the coast(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15T battery). This area is part of the Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests ecoregion.
Countryside near Ngaoundal in Cameroon's Adamawa Region.
Fifteenth-century Portuguese explorers found the mud shrimp Lepidophthalmus turneranus in such abundance that they named the area Rio dos Camarões, the name from which Cameroon derives.
An irregular chain of mountains, hills, and plateaus known as the Cameroon range extends from Mount Cameroon on the coast—Cameroon's highest point at 4,095 metres (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15G battery) (13,435 ft)—almost to Lake Chad at Cameroon's northern border at 13°05'N. This region has a mild climate, particularly on the Western High Plateau, although rainfall is high. Its soils are among Cameroon's most fertile, especially around volcanic Mount Cameroon. Volcanism here has created crater lakes. On 21 August 1986, one of these, Lake Nyos, belched carbon dioxide and killed between 1,700 and 2,000 people. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11L battery) This area has been delineated by the World Wildlife Fund as the Cameroonian Highlands forests ecoregion.
The southern plateau rises northward to the grassy, rugged Adamawa Plateau. This feature stretches from the western mountain area and forms a barrier between the country's north and south. Its average elevation is 1,100 metres (3,609 ft), and its average temperature ranges from 22 °C (71.6 °F) to 25 °C (77 °F) (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11Z battery) with high rainfall between April and October peaking in July and August. The northern lowland region extends from the edge of the Adamawa to Lake Chad with an average elevation of 300 to 350 metres (984 to 1,148 ft). Its characteristic vegetation is savanna scrub and grass. This is an arid region with sparse rainfall and high median temperatures(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11M battery).
Cameroon has four patterns of drainage. In the south, the principal rivers are the Ntem, Nyong, Sanaga, and Wouri. These flow southwestward or westward directly into the Gulf of Guinea. The Dja and Kadéï drain southeastward into the Congo River. In northern Cameroon, the Bénoué River runs north and west and empties into the Niger. The Logone flows northward into Lake Chad, which Cameroon shares with three neighbouring countries(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18M battery).
Economy and infrastructure
Street vendor in Douala, Cameroon
Graphical depiction of Cameroon's product exports in 28 color coded categories.
A Fulani herder drives his cattle in northern Cameroon
Main article: Economy of Cameroon
Cameroon's per-capita GDP (Purchasing power parity) was estimated as US$2,300 in 2008, one of the ten highest in sub-Saharan Africa. Major export markets include France, Italy, South Korea, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Cameroon has enjoyed a decade of strong economic performance, with GDP growing at an average of 4 percent per year. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18 battery) 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). (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ210CE battery)
Its currency is the CFA franc. Red tape, high taxes, and endemic corruption have impeded growth of the private sector. Unemployment was estimated at 30% 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) (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31S battery) to reduce poverty, privatise industries, and increase economic growth. Tourism is a growing sector, particularly in the coastal area, around Mount Cameroon, and in the north.
Cameroon's natural resources are very well suited to agriculture and arboriculture. An estimated 70% of the population farms, and agriculture comprised an estimated 19.8% of GDP in 2009. Most agriculture is done at the subsistence scale by local farmers using simple tools(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31Z battery). 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(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31E battery). 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.
Livestock are raised throughout the country. Fishing employs some 5,000 people and provides 20,000 tons of seafood each year. Bushmeat, long a staple food for rural Cameroonians, is today a delicacy in the country's urban centres(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31J battery). The commercial bushmeat trade has now surpassed deforestation as the main threat to wildlife in Cameroon.
The southern rainforest has vast timber reserves, estimated to cover 37% of Cameroon's total land area. However, large areas of the forest are difficult to reach. Logging, largely handled by foreign-owned firms, provides the government US$60 million a year, and laws mandate the safe and sustainable exploitation of timber. Nevertheless(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31M battery), in practice, the industry is one of the least regulated in Cameroon.
A bush taxi attempts to pass a stalled logging vehicle on the road between Abong-Mbang and Lomié, East Region.
Factory-based industry accounted for an estimated 29.7% of GDP in 2009. More than 75% of Cameroon's industrial strength is located in Douala and Bonabéri. Cameroon possesses substantial mineral resources, but these are not extensively mined. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31B battery)Petroleum exploitation has fallen since 1985, but this is still a substantial sector such that dips in prices have a strong effect on the economy. Rapids and waterfalls obstruct the southern rivers, but these sites offer opportunities for hydroelectric development and supply most of Cameroon's energy. The Sanaga River powers the largest hydroelectric station, located at Edéa(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ32 battery). The rest of Cameroon's energy comes from oil-powered thermal engines. Much of the country remains without reliable power supplies.
Transport in Cameroon is often difficult. Except for the several relatively good toll roads which connect major cities (all of them one-lane) roads are poorly maintained and subject to inclement weather, since only 10% of the roadways are tarred. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ410 battery) Roadblocks often serve little other purpose than to allow police and gendarmes to collect bribes from travellers. Road banditry has long hampered transport along the eastern and western borders, and since 2005, the problem has intensified in the east as the Central African Republic has further destabilised. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21 battery)
Intercity bus services run by multiple private companies connect all major cities, although intercity buses rarely depart on schedule but rather wait until all the tickets are sold. They are the most popular mean of transportation followed by the rail service Camrail. Rail service runs from Kumba in the west to Bélabo in the east and north to Ngaoundéré(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21S battery).
International airports are located in Douala and Yaoundé. The airport at Bamenda is now closed. The Wouri estuary provides a harbour for Douala, the country's principal seaport. In the north, the Bénoué River is seasonally navigable from Garoua across into Nigeria.
Although press freedoms have improved since the first decade of the 21st century, the press is corrupt and beholden to special interests and political groups. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21M battery) Newspapers routinely self-censor to avoid government reprisals. The major radio and television stations are state-run and other communications, such as land-based telephones and telegraphs, are largely under government control. However, cell phone networks and Internet providers have increased dramatically since the first decade of the 21st century and are largely unregulated. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ38M battery)
2009 UN estimates place Cameroon's population at 19,522,000. The population is young: an estimated 40.9% are under 15, and 96.7% are under 65. The birth rate is estimated at 34.1 births per 1,000 people, the death rate at 12.2. The life expectancy is 53.69 years (52.89 years for males and 54.52 years for females). (Sony VGN-NR11S/S Battery)
Cameroon's population is almost evenly divided between urban and rural dwellers. Population density is highest in the large urban centres, the western highlands, and the northeastern plain. Douala, Yaoundé, and Garoua are the largest cities. In contrast, the Adamawa Plateau, southeastern Bénoué depression, and most of the South Cameroon Plateau are sparsely populated. (Sony VGN-NR11M/S Battery)
People from the overpopulated western highlands and the underdeveloped north are moving to the coastal plantation zone and urban centres for employment. Smaller movements are occurring as workers seek employment in lumber mills and plantations in the south and east. Although the national sex ratio is relatively even, these out-migrants are primarily males, which leads to unbalanced ratios in some regions. (Sony VGN-NR11Z/S Battery)
The homes of the Musgum, in the Far North Region, are made of earth and grass.
Both monogamous and polygamous marriage are practiced, and the average Cameroonian family is large and extended. In the north, women tend to the home, and men herd cattle or work as farmers. In the south, women grow the family's food, and men provide meat and grow cash crops. Cameroonian society is male-dominated(Sony VGN-NR11Z/T Battery), and violence and discrimination against women is common.
Estimates identify anywhere from 230 to 282 different folks and linguistic groups in Cameroon. The Adamawa Plateau broadly bisects these into northern and southern divisions. The northern peoples are Sudanese groups, who live in the central highlands and the northern lowlands, and the Fulani, who are spread throughout northern Cameroon. A small number of Shuwa Arabs live near Lake Chad(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21E battery). Southern Cameroon is inhabited by speakers of Bantu and Semi-Bantu languages. Bantu-speaking groups inhabit the coastal and equatorial zones, while speakers of Semi-Bantu languages live in the Western grassfields. Some 5,000 Gyele and Baka Pygmy peoples roam the southeastern and coastal rainforests or live in small, roadside settlements. Nigerians, make up the largest group of foreign nationals. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21Z battery)
A Tikar family in the Northwest Province
In 2007, Cameroon hosted a total population of refugees and asylum seekers of approximately 97,400. Of these, 49,300 were from the Central African Republic (many driven west by war), 41,600 from Chad, and 2,900 from Nigeria. Kidnappings of Cameroonian citizens by Central African bandits have increased since 2005. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21J battery)
The European languages introduced during colonialism have created a linguistic divide between the population who live in the Northwest and Southwest regions and the French-speaking remainder of the country. Both English and French are official languages, although French is by far the most understood language (80+%). German, the language of the original colonisers(Sony VAIO VGN-FW11 battery), has long since been displaced by French and English. Cameroonian Pidgin English is the lingua franca in the formerly British-administered territories. A mixture of English, French, and Pidgin called Camfranglais has been gaining popularity in urban centres since the mid-1970s.
Cameroon has a high level of religious freedom and diversity. The predominant faith is Christianity, practiced by about two-thirds of the population(Sony VAIO VGN-FW11M battery), while Islam is a significant minority faith, adhered to by about one-fifth. In addition, traditional faiths are practiced by many. Muslims are most concentrated in the north, while Christians are concentrated primarily in the southern and western regions, but practitioners of both faiths can be found throughout the country. Large cities have significant populations of both groups. (Sony VAIO VGN-FW11S battery) There is significant internal migration. There are currently no active religious political parties.
People from the North-West and South-West provinces are largely Protestant, and the French-speaking regions of the southern and western regions are largely Catholic. Southern ethnic groups predominantly follow Christian or traditional African animist beliefs, or a syncretic combination of the two. People widely believe in witchcraft, and the government outlaws such practices. Suspected witches are often subject to mob violence. (Sony VAIO VGN-FW21E battery)
In the northern regions, the locally dominant Fulani ethnic group is mostly Muslim, but the overall population is fairly evenly divided among Muslims, Christians, and followers of indigenous religious beliefs (called Kirdi ("pagan") by the Fulani). The Bamum ethnic group of the West Region is largely Muslim. Native traditional religions are practiced in rural areas throughout the country but rarely are practiced publicly in cities(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21J battery), in part because many indigenous religious groups are intrinsically local in character.
Each of Cameroon's ethnic groups has its own unique cultural forms. Typical celebrations include births, deaths, plantings, harvests, and religious rituals. Seven national holidays are observed throughout the year, and movable holidays include the Christian holy days of Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, and Ascension; and the Muslim holy days of Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha, and Eid Miladun Nabi(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21L battery).
Music and dance are an integral part of Cameroonian ceremonies, festivals, social gatherings, and storytelling. Traditional dances are highly choreographed and separate men and women or forbid participation by one sex altogether. The goals of dances range from pure entertainment to religious devotion. Traditionally, music is transmitted orally. In a typical performance, a chorus of singers echoes a soloist. (Sony VAIO VGN-FW41M battery)
Musical accompaniment may be as simple as clapping hands and stomping feet, but traditional instruments include bells worn by dancers, clappers, drums and talking drums, flutes, horns, rattles, scrapers, stringed instruments, whistles, and xylophones; the exact combination varies with ethnic group and region. Some performers sing complete songs by themselves, accompanied by a harplike instrument. (Sony VAIO VGN-FW41M/H battery)
Popular music styles include ambasse bey of the coast, assiko of the Bassa, mangambeu of the Bangangte, and tsamassi of the Bamileke. Nigerian music has influenced Anglophone Cameroonian performers, and Prince Nico Mbarga's highlife hit "Sweet Mother" is the top-selling African record in history. The two most popular styles are makossa and bikutsi(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21M battery). Makossa developed in Douala and mixes folk music, highlife, soul, and Congo music. Performers such as Manu Dibango, Francis Bebey, Moni Bilé, and Petit-Pays popularised the style worldwide in the 1970s and 1980s. Bikutsi originated as war music among the Ewondo. Artists such as Anne-Marie Nzié developed it into a popular dance music beginning in the 1940s(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21Z battery), and performers such as Mama Ohandja and Les Têtes Brulées popularised it internationally during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
A woman weaves a basket near Lake Ossa, Littoral Region. Cameroonians practice such handicrafts throughout the country.
Cuisine varies by region, but a large, one-course, evening meal is common throughout the country. A typical dish is based on cocoyams, maize, cassava (manioc), millet, plantains, potatoes, rice, or yams, often pounded into dough-like fufu (cous-cous) (Sony VAIO VGN-FW32J battery). This is served with a sauce, soup, or stew made from greens, groundnuts, palm oil, or other ingredients. Meat and fish are popular but expensive additions. Dishes are often quite hot, spiced with salt, red pepper, and Maggi. Water, palm wine, and millet beer are the traditional mealtime drinks, although beer, soda, and wine have gained popularity. Silverware is common, but food is traditionally manipulated with the right hand(Sony VAIO VGN-FW17W battery). Breakfast consists of leftovers of bread and fruit with coffee or tea, generally breakfast is made from wheat flour various different foods such as puff-puff (doughnuts), accra banana made from bananas and flour,bean cakes and many more. Snacks are popular, especially in larger towns where they may be bought from street vendors. (Sony VAIO VGN-FW31E battery)
Traditional arts and crafts are practiced throughout the country for commercial, decorative, and religious purposes. Woodcarvings and sculptures are especially common. The high-quality clay of the western highlands is suitable for pottery and ceramics. Other crafts include basket weaving, beadworking, brass and bronze working, calabash carving and painting(Sony VAIO VGN-FW139E battery), embroidery, and leather working. Traditional housing styles make use of locally available materials and vary from temporary wood-and-leaf shelters of nomadic Mbororo to the rectangular mud-and-thatch homes of southern peoples. Dwellings made from materials such as cement and tin are increasingly common.
Contemporary art is mainly promoted by independent cultural organizations (Doual'art, Africréa) and artist-run initiatives (Art Wash, Atelier Viking, ArtBakery) (Sony VAIO VGN-FW139E/H battery). Douala and Yaoundé are the major cities where the institutions and projects are located. Douala hosts the art biennial DUTA (2005 and 2007) and the art and architecture triennial SUD-Salon Urbain de Douala with site-specific permanent and ephemeral urban interventions; in Yaoundé is located RAVY-Rencontres d'arts visuels de Yaoundé(Sony VAIO VGN-FW465J battery).
Cameroon faces Germany at Zentralstadion in Leipzig, 27 April 2003.
Cameroonian literature and film have concentrated on both European and African themes. Colonial-era writers such as Louis-Marie Pouka and Sankie Maimo were educated by European missionary societies and advocated assimilation into European culture as the means to bring Cameroon into the modern world. (Sony VAIO VGN-FW31M battery)After World War II, writers such as Mongo Beti and Ferdinand Oyono analysed and criticised colonialism and rejected assimilation.
Shortly after independence, filmmakers such as Jean-Paul Ngassa and Thérèse Sita-Bella explored similar themes. In the 1960s, Mongo Beti and other writers explored post-colonialism, problems of African development, and the recovery of African identity. (Sony VAIO VGN-FW31J battery) Meanwhile, in the mid-1970s, filmmakers such as Jean-Pierre Dikongué Pipa and Daniel Kamwa dealt with the conflicts between traditional and post-colonial society. Literature and films during the next two decades concentrated more on wholly Cameroonian themes.
National policy strongly advocates sport in all forms. Traditional sports include canoe racing and wrestling, and several hundred runners participate in the 40 km (25 mi) Mount Cameroon Race of Hope each year. (Sony VAIO VGN-FW31Z battery) Cameroon is one of the few tropical countries to have competed in the Winter Olympics. However, sport in Cameroon is dominated by association football (soccer). Amateur football clubs abound, organised along ethnic lines or under corporate sponsors. The Cameroon national football team has been one of the most successful in Africa since its strong showing in the 1990 FIFA World Cup(Sony VGN-NR11Z Battery). Cameroon has won four African Cup of Nations titles and the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics. Samuel Eto'o and the Cameroon national team did not make it out of the group stages of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.