Cameroon

Cameroon

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





Map

Leader

In power since 1982, Paul Biya is seen as one of Africa's most entrenched leaders.






Travel

Visa & travel advice

 

 

  • Best period:

The best months for travel to Cameroon are January through April, when temperatures are moderate and the climate is dry. Luckily for you, the lowest airfares can also be found during that time. Be mindful of your terrain. Often, the mountains and plateaus can register a significant drop in temperature or a change in weather, while the coast is often warmer and more humid. 

  • Safety:

As one should always do while traveling, be aware of your surroundings and use your best judgment. Be alert when traveling at night or in crowded areas and when traveling near the borders of Chad and the Central African Republic. Keep an eye on political and social developments: elections are scheduled for 2011, and in the past some public demonstrations have turned violent. For information on travel advisories, check the U.S. Department of State’s travel page on Cameroon.

Foreign passport holders travelling to Cameroon are hereby informed that our 
new visa application forms are now available for download or at our office, and they will henceforth fulfil the following requirements in order to obtain a visa form the High Commission.

History

Bantu speakers were among the first groups to settle Cameroon, followed by the Muslim Fulani in the 18th and 19th centuries. The land escaped colonial rule until 1884, when treaties with tribal chiefs brought the area under German domination. After World War I, the League of Nations gave the French a mandate over 80% of the area, and the British 20% adjacent to Nigeria. After World War II, when the country came under a UN trusteeship in 1946, self-government was granted, and the Cameroon People's Union emerged as the dominant party by campaigning for reunification of French and British Cameroon and for independence. Accused of being under Communist control, the party waged a campaign of revolutionary terror from 1955 to 1958, when it was crushed. In British Cameroon, unification was also promoted by the leading party, the Kamerun National Democratic Party, led by John Foncha.

Arts & Culture

  • Music:

Cameroon's best know music is called Makossa. It's not the only music genre of Cameroon. There are other numerous and well known music of Cameroon such as bikutsi, ngoso and other traditional music from the various tribes in Cameroon.

All these don't mean Cameroonian musicians have no place in popular music genres such as romance, rock, pop, electronic, instrumental, classical and religious.

In fact, you will find all these in Cameroon.

However, it's worth noting that Cameroon is popularly know for Makossa. Makossa has won millions of fans beyond Cameroon.

  •  Literature:

According to David Ndachi Tagne, the "mild controversy" surrounding the origins of Cameroonian literature is due to a complex colonial history during which the French and English took over from the Germans after World War I. Overall, the French dominated literary output during the 20th Century, although it is to the German and English missionaries, and especially the local intelligentsia that one must look for the introduction of writing in the area, i.e., the production of texts in Douala, in English and later in German. For example, Sultan Ibrahim Njoya who dominated intellectual life in the Bamum region at the end of the nineteenth century, invented his own alphabet and wrote several volumes devoted to Bamum law, knowledge and customs. It was only in the 1920s that this writing was abandoned when the French destroyed his press machines, closed all his schools and imposed their own language and educational material. Rudolph Douala Manga Bell was another intellectual who was to become a prominent figure in his country. After studying law in Europe, he returned to Cameroon where he became chief of the Doualas, but like so many others, he ended up being summarily executed by a colonial administration unwilling to undertake juridicial negotiations with an African lawyer. It was at this time that Joseph Ekolo published his impressions of Europe under the title Wie ein Schwarzer das Land der Weiszen ansieht (Vision of the White World from a Black Perspective). In 1932, Jean-Louis Njemba Medou published Nnanga Kon in Boulou, a book that is sometimes considered the first novel written by a Cameroonian author.

  • Film industry:

The history of Cameroonian cinema starts in Paris with a documentary by Jean-Paul Ngassa covering the situation of Cameroonian students in France, "Aventure en France" (1962). This same topic inspires Thérèse Sita Bella, the director of Tom-Tom in Paris (1963). On return to his country, Ngassa starts working for the State service producing propaganda films about this newborn nation (1970). In 1975 on the national and international screens, the first full-length films with Pousse Pushes by Daniel Kamwa and Muna Moto by Jean Pierre Dikongue Pipa whose other films include Courte maladie and Badiaga.

The most prolific early filmmaker (produced between 1791 and 1985) and actor in Cameroon is Alphonse Béni who features in Cameroon Connection the extraordinary adventures of Inspector Bako. In 1983, Arthur Si Bita made his feature film, Les Coopérants, a modern fable. Daniel Kamwa, who breezily passes from the role of director to that of actor, generally chooses the tones of comedy. His films include, as mentioned, Pousse-Pousse (1975) and Le Cercle des Pouvoirs (1997), a cinematic accusation of Cameroonian society number one burden: corruption. 


So a handful of filmmakers in Cameroon with good international reputations gained acclaim, but there is little in the way of a formal film production infrastructure. Local skills are available in the country and in the rest of the region. Having both English and French as official languages, filmmakers and technicians from the country have special advantages on the regions larger products. They are surrounded by countries which are either Anglophone or Francophone, hence the Cameroonians are well presented in camera productions all over the region.

 

  • Famous places: 

The Castle (Schloss) of Puttkamer was built in the year 1900 as the residence of the Governor. This historical structure was an imitation of the architecture of a Wilhelminian Hunting Lodge in Brandenburg, Germany. In spite of several items and furniture having disappeared, there are a few glasses and plates left from German period.

 

The Bandjoun Museum constitutes over one hundred noteworthy objects of the cultural and artistic heritage of Bandjoun which is one of the main centers of artistic creation and tradition in Cameroon. The museum includes some rare masterpieces of African art which celebrate the pomp of the court of the kings of Bandjoun, and the opulence of the monarchs. As a storehouse of relics from the ancient past, the Bandjoun Museum is one of the important historical places of Cameroon.

  • Architecture history:

 Architecture varies by region. In the rain forest and the Grassfields, poto-poto (earthen plaster on a wooden frame) and mud brick rectangular buildings roofed in palm thatch or corrugated iron are common. Traditional Grassfields architecture was constructed of "bamboo" (the spines of raffia palm fronds); square or rectangular buildings with sliding doors were topped by conical thatched roofs. The doorposts of royalty had elaborate carvings. Traditional architecture in the north includes round mud buildings crowned in thatch. Walled compounds usually include a separate granary. Throughout the nation, structures built of concrete bricks, corrugated iron roofs, and iron grillwork have replaced other forms of housing.

Much of daily life occurs in public areas such as the courtyards of polygynous compounds. Privacy is often suspect, especially among peoples with a strong belief in malevolent and occult powers.


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