Population: 18,879,301 estimates for
this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess
mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy,
higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population
growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by
age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2009 est.)
Economy: Because of its modest oil
resources and favorable agricultural conditions, Cameroon has
one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in
sub-Saharan Africa. Still, it faces many of the serious problems
facing other underdeveloped countries, such as stagnating per
capita income, a relatively inequitable distribution of income,
a top-heavy civil service, and a generally unfavorable climate
for business enterprise. International oil and cocoa prices have
a significant impact on the economy. Since 1990, the government
has embarked on various IMF and World Bank programs designed to
spur business investment, increase efficiency in agriculture,
improve trade, and recapitalize the nation's banks. The IMF is
pressing for more reforms, including increased budget
transparency, privatization, and poverty reduction programs.
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.
Religion: Estimates of the
population observing traditional animist African beliefs (the
base of most traditional religions in Africa, where there is the
belief in and worship of a spirit in all natural things) stand
at about 40%, with the remainder made up of around 40% Christian
and 20% Muslim. Yet such statistics are misleading as they fail
to take into account the overlapping of Christianity with
Many Cameroonians are Christian and yet follow traditional
beliefs, such as taking part in a traditional dance at a funeral
or wedding. Also, the above statistics for Christianity relate
mainly to those practising rather than simply professing their
religion, a figure far higher than that in the UK.
Particularly strong observance of traditional African beliefs
comes from the �Pygmy� communities of the southern rainforests.
They typically believe in a forest spirit, where the forest is
seen as a mother, father and guardian. There is also a sizeable
community of non-Muslim animists known as Kirdi in the north.
Traditional beliefs are still very much alive and well
throughout many of the more rural parts of Cameroon.