(Republic of Cameroon; République du Cameroun). Central African state (475,442 km²). Capital: Yaoundé. Administrative division: provinces (10). Population: 19,521,600 (2009 estimate). Language: French and English (official), Bantu, Sudanese dialects, Semibantu. Religion: Catholics 27.4%, animists / traditional beliefs 22.2%, Muslims 20%, Protestants 20.2%. Monetary unit: CFA franc (100 cents). Human Development Index: 0.523 (153rd place). Borders: Nigeria (N and W), Chad (NE), Central African Republic (E), Republic of Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea (S), Atlantic Ocean (Gulf of Guinea) (W). Member of: Commonwealth, OCI, UN, AU and WTO, EU associate.
Located between the central French-speaking section of the continent and the western English-speaking section, it extends from the bottom of the Gulf of Guinea northwards to Lake Chad. Cameroon, which unites in a single state the territories that were the subject of two distinct colonial mandates (English in the southwestern sector, French in the rest of the country) has almost everywhere artificial borders and dictated by political reasons. In particular, it was the first German colonizers to set the boundaries of the colony on the basis of their expansionist design in the interior: this explains among other things the singular “duck bill” towards the Congo basin. Therefore, the German colonial heritage first, and the Franco-British one later, produced in independent Cameroon the presence of two administrative systems (in force until 1972) and two official languages (English and French), to which we must add the elements of traditional distinction between N and S, between coast and inland, between plains and plateaus: in fact it participates both in the equatorial domain and in the Sudanese belt of the savannahs; culturally it contrasts the forest and bantoid people in the south with the Sudanese people in the north. The result is heterogeneous, with a differentiated population and an unorganized institutional set-up. These “difficulties” were contrasted, on the road to development, by some positive conditions: a good level of schooling, a demographic trend that is less exasperated than in other countries, a notable heritage of natural resources.
According to 800zipcodes, most of the territory extends over the Sanaga basin, the true hydrographic axis of the country of which it crosses the entire southern section, flowing into the Gulf of Guinea not far from the mouth of another smaller river, the Wouri, named by the first Portuguese explorers Rio dos Camarãos (river of shrimps), hence the name Cameroon. But the most characteristic morphological element is constituted by the reliefs that rise on the western side of Cameroon and which represent a fundamental orographic reference in the physical context of Africa, reconnecting to the imposing massifs of the central Sahara; they correspond to a large fracture lineand tectonic dislocations (called “Cameroon line”), which has its continuation in the volcanic islands (Bioko, Príncipe, São Tomé) emerging in the Gulf of Guinea. Structurally, these reliefs are formed by archaeozoic plates raised by large horst divided between them by more or less large depressions; one of these plates is also the Adamaua plateau (Adamaoua), which separates the Sanaga basin from the Benue depression (Bénoué). The northern part of the country dominated by the Mandara mountains, the last raised edge before the depression area of Lake Chad, focuses on this. The perturbations from which these reliefs originated are linked to volcanic activity which, starting from the end of the Mesozoic, gave rise to large basaltic expansions and the birth of volcanoes, including the imposing cone of Mount Cameroon overlooking the Gulf of Guinea. The volcano, which is active albeit episodically, reaches 4100 m and is the highest mountain in Cameroon, whose reliefs remain on modest altitudes, slightly exceeding 2000 m in the southern section and in the Adamaua massif; there are mature forms everywhere, albeit with very particular aspects linked to the volcanic morphology (this is the case of the spectacular spiers of the Mandara mountains). The rest of the country has archaeozoic surfaces, more or less animated by the ridges that separate the open river furrows of the Sanaga basin. On the coast of the Gulf of Guinea – which Cameroon overlooks for approx. 500 km – the largest Cameroonian plain stretches, approx. 150 km and originated from the floods of the Sanaga and other rivers (including the Nyong) which descend directly to the Atlantic; alluvial plains are found in the Benue valley and in the area close to Lake Chad, whose sedimentary deposits from past epochs are found on a large radius around its current contours.
The northernmost appendix of the country, bathed by the Logone river, belongs to the basin of Lake Chad; the rest is hydrographically divided between the Niger basin through the Benue and the aforementioned and wider Sanaga basin, while the southeastern section falls within the Congolese basin, through the tributaries of the Sangha (including the Ngoko, formed by the union of the Boumba and Dja). These latter rivers, as in part the Sanaga itself, have a relatively constant regime as they are fed by rains induced by the humid climate of southern Cameroon.