30+ Facts About Cameroon You Should Know

Discover 30+ facts about Cameroon!

Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon, is a country on the Gulf of Guinea in Central Africa. Home to a melting pot of different ethnicities and fascinating cultures, Cameroon is blessed with a stunning array of natural landscapes such as white-sand beaches, diverse wildlife, and thick rainforests. Here are some interesting facts about Cameroon.

Facts about Cameroon

1. Cameroon is the 53rd largest country in the world. 

Cameroon has a total area of 475,442 km² (183,569 sq mi). Comparatively, Cameroon is slightly larger in size than Sweden and the US state of California.

2. Cameroon shares a land border with three countries.

Cameroon is bordered by Chad (1116 km/693 mi) to the northeast; Nigeria (1975 km/1227 mi) to the west and north; the Central African Republic (901 km/560 mi) to the east; and Equatorial Guinea (183 km/114 mi), Gabon (349 km/217 mi), and the Republic of the Congo (494 km/307 mi) to the south.

3. Cameroon has a 402 km (250 mi) long coastline.

All of Cameroon’s 402 km (250 mi) long coastline lies on the Bight of Biafra, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean, in west Cameroon.

4. Cameroon is home to two of the three exploding lakes in the world.

This is one of the fascinating Cameroon facts. Cameroon is home to Lake Monoun and Lake Nyos, two of the world’s three limnically active (or exploding) lakes. These lakes contain a reserve of carbon dioxide in their waters in the form of magma underneath the water.

Although the notion of an exploding lake sounds cool, they are actually extremely volatile and dangerous. They cause limnic eruptions—a rare type of natural phenomenon in which dissolved carbon dioxide suddenly erupts from deep lake waters, forming a gas cloud capable of asphyxiating livestock and humans. 

A limnic eruption occurred at Lake Monoun in 1984, causing the deaths of 37 people living nearby. In 1986, a more potent eruption at Lake Nyos killed over 1700 people.

5. THe highest peak in Cameroon is Mount Cameroon.

Mount Cameroon is an active volcano located in the southwest of Cameroon near the Gulf of Guinea. It rises to an elevation of 4,045 m (13,271 ft). Mount Cameroon is one of the most active volcanoes in Africa, having last erupted in 2012.

What’s interesting is that many Cameroonians believe Mount Cameroon’s inner core is home to powerful ancestral spirits, including a mountain god who causes the ground to shake and spit fire when angered.

6. Cameroon is home to one of the ten wettest places in the world.

It rains a lot in Cameroon but nowhere is this more evident than in the village of Debundscha. This small village on the southwest coast of Cameroon receives more than 10,200 mm (400 in) of rainfall annually. Based on this data, Debundscha is easily one of the top ten wettest places in the world (inhabited places).

7. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to land in Cameroon.

In 1472, Portuguese explorers and traders settled along the banks of the Wouri River in what is now the southwestern part of Cameroon on the Gulf of Guinea. They set up sugar plantations and purchased slaves from the local people bringing Cameroon into the Atlantic Slave trade.

8. Cameroon is the only country in the world to be named after a crustacean.

This is one of the most interesting facts about Cameroon. When the Portuguese first arrived in Cameroon, they sailed up the Wouri River which they named “Rio dos Camarões” (the River of Prawns) due to the abundance of prawns they found in its broad estuary. The word ‘Cameroon’ is the Anglicized form of the word Camarões.

9. Cameroon is a former German protectorate.

In 1884, Cameroon came under German rule after the explorer Gustav Nachtigal negotiated protectorate treaties with the local chiefs on behalf of the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm. The German occupation of the country lasted from 1884 to 1916, and during this time Cameroon was known as Kamerun.

On one hand, the Germans oversaw cultivated large plantations and substantially improved Cameroon’s infrastructure, particularly the roads and railroads. On the other hand, the Germans’ practice of harshly forcing the Cameroonians to work on the projects against their will caused widespread resentment.

10. Cameroon is a former British and French colony.

When World War I broke out, Cameroon was invaded by the French and British forces. After World War I when Germany lost its colonies, as outlined in the  League of Nations mandates, one-fifth of the former German Kamerun, which was contiguous with eastern Nigeria, was assigned to the United Kingdom, and the remaining four-fifths was assigned to France.

The British chose to administer its territory from neighboring Nigeria which led to British Cameroons being somewhat neglected. The British also encouraged droves of Nigerian workers to migrate to British Cameroons, which further angered the native Cameroonians. French Cameroons had a more rapid economic and social development than British Cameroons.

11. Cameroon gained independence in 1960.

In the 1950s, the pan-African momentum for breaking free from the shackles of colonialism was rapidly catching on in Cameroon. On 1 January 1960, French Cameroons finally gained full independence from France. 

However, the future of British Cameroons was still to be decided and the question arose whether to remain with Nigeria or to unite with the newly independent Republic of Cameroon. In a UN-sponsored plebiscite in 1961, the south decided to unite with the former French Cameroons, creating the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The north opted to join Nigeria.

12. The capital of Cameroon is Yaoundé.

Spread across a cluster of lush-green hills in south-central Cameroon, Yaoundé is the country’s capital and second-largest city.

13. The largest city in Cameroon is Douala.

Although Douala is not the capital of Cameroon, it is its commercial and economic heart. The coastal city sits on the estuary of the Wouri River and is home to Central Africa’s largest port and Cameroon’s major international airport.

14. Cameroon has had only two presidents since its independence.

Being a semi-presidential constitutional republic, the President of Cameroon is the absolute head of state and de facto head of government of the country. Since the country’s independence in 1960, only two men have been president.

Ahmadou Ahidjo, leader of one of the independence parties, served as Cameroon’s first president from 1960 until his resignation in 1982. In 1982, Ahidjo’s hand-picked successor, Paul Biya became Cameroon’s second president and has served in that capacity since. Biya’s tenure as president began on 6 November 1982, making him the second-longest-ruling president in Africa.

15. The currency of Cameroon is the Central African CFA franc (XAF).

The currency of Cameroon is the Central African franc (CFA), which is pegged to both the West African franc and the Euro. The CFA franc was introduced in Cameroon in 1945, replacing the French Equatorial African franc.

16. Cameroon doesn’t observe daylight saving.

Daylight saving has never been observed in Cameroon.

17. The national flag of Cameroon has three colors.

Cameroon’s national flag is a vertical tricolor of green, red, and yellow (the traditional Pan-African colors) with a yellow star in the center of the red bar. The flag of Cameroon in its present form was adopted in 1975.

The green stripe represents the verdant forests that cover the southern part of Cameroon, while the yellow stripe represents the savanna that covers the northern part of the country as well as the bright sun that shines down upon it. The red stripe is a symbol of national unity. The yellow star is also a symbol of unity, and it is placed in the center of the red bar in order to emphasize that symbolism.

18. French and English are the two official languages of Cameroon.

Cameroon’s two official languages are French and English, the official languages of former colonial French Cameroons and British Cameroons respectively. French is by far the more dominant language representing 80-85% of Cameroon’s population while the anglophone proportion of the country represents 15-20% of the population.

19. Cameroon is one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world.

This is one of the most fascinating Cameroon facts. With some 275 languages spoken in the country, Cameroon is easily one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world. In fact, Ethnologue ranks Cameroon number nine in the world as per most languages spoken in a country.

The indigenous languages of Cameroon include Afro-Asiatic languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Ubangian languages, and Niger-Congo languages. Some of these languages are Akoose, Fulfuda, Ewondo, Maba, Kom, Bulu, Bassa, Toupouri, and Yemba.

20. Christianity is the most popular religion in Cameroon.

Approximately two-thirds of Cameroon’s population are Christians. Islam is a significant minority faith in Cameroon, adhered to by about one-fourth of the nation’s population. Many Christians and Muslims integrate traditional beliefs into their religious practices.

Christians are concentrated primarily in the southern and western regions of Cameroon, while Muslims are most concentrated in the north. However, practitioners of both faiths can be found throughout the country. 

21. Cameroon is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world.

Cameroon has an extremely heterogeneous population and is home to over 200 different ethnic groups. These can be divided into five major groups:

  • Western Highlanders: including the Bamileke, Bamum (or Bamoun), and many smaller Tikar groups in the Northwest (35-40% of the population)
  • Coastal Tropical forest peoples: including the Bassa, Duala, and many smaller groups in the Southwest (10-15% of the population)
  • Southern Tropical forest peoples: including the Beti-Pahuin, Bulu, Fang, Maka, Njem, and Baka pygmies (15-20% of the population)
  • Predominantly Islamic peoples: including the Fulani of the Sahel and central highlands (10-15% of the population)
  • The “Kirdi” peoples: including mostly traditional believers of the northern desert and central highlands (10-15% of the population)

22. Cameroon is home to some of the most fertile land in the world.

Blessed with some of the richest soils on the planet, agriculture is a mainstay of Cameroon’s economy. Cameroon is known for its cash crops of cocoa, coffee, cotton, bananas, rubber, palm oil and kernels, and peanuts. The main food crops are plantains, cassava, corn, millet, and sugarcane

23. The world’s largest frog can be found in Cameroon.

One of the unique facts about Cameroon is that it is home to the world’s largest frog. The suitably-named Goliath Frog can grow to a size of 34 cm (13 in) in length. It weighs up to 3.3 kg (7.3 lbs) and is known for building its own ponds using heavy rocks.

24. Cameroon is tremendously rich in biodiversity.

With over 200,000 km² (77,220 sq mi) of tropical forests, Cameroon is home to at least 9,000 plant species, approximately 900 bird species, and around 320 mammals!

25. Cameroon is home to a breakaway state called Ambazonia.

Ambazonia, officially the Federal Republic of Ambazonia, is a self-declared state in Cameroon. Ambazonia was formerly a part of British Cameroons and is home to Cameroon’s Anglophone community. 

Cameroon’s minority Anglophone community has long complained about discrimination and marginalization at the country’s majority Francophone community. Frustrated at being chronically under-represented in all aspects of national life by Cameroon’s French-speaking majority, Ambazonia declared its independence from Cameroon on 1 October 2017. However, it has gained no international recognition so far.

26. Cameroon is not LGBT-friendly.

Homosexuality is illegal in Cameroon, and homosexual acts can receive anywhere from six months to five years in prison as punishment. Contributing to the lack of acceptance of homosexuals in Cameroon is a pervading belief that homosexuals are cursed or bewitched.

27. Football is the most popular sport in Cameroon.

Like in most African countries, football is indisputably the most popular sport in Cameroon. The Cameroon men’s national football team is one of the most successful national teams in Africa. They are nicknamed “The Indomitable Lions”.

The Cameroonian national football team was the first African team to reach the quarter-final of the FIFA World Cup in 1990, losing to England in extra time. They have also won five Africa Cup of Nations and Olympic gold in 2000. Some of the most notable footballers to come from Cameroon are Roger Milla, Thomas N’Kono, Samuel Eto’o, Geremi, and Patrick Mboma.

28. The national dish of Cameroon is Ndolé.

The scrumptious Ndolé is a Cameroonian peanut-based stew made of spinach and bitter leaves – flavored with aromatic spices and fortified with anything from shrimps to dried fish or ground beef.

29. Cameroon is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cameroon are the Dja Faunal Reserve and the Sangha Trinational forest.

30. Cameroon has won six medals at the Olympics.

Cameroon first participated at the Summer Olympics in 1964 and has won six medals to date. The nation has won three gold, one silver, and two bronze medals. Cameroon is one of the few tropical nations to have competed at the Winter Olympics, having sent one athlete (skier Isaac Menyoli) to the 2002 Winter Olympics.

31. In the 2000s, scientists found strong evidence that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) originated from chimpanzees in a southeastern corner of Cameroon.

Researchers speculate a human first acquired the virus in 1908 while killing an infected chimpanzee for bushmeat in southeast Cameroon. The person likely got infected by somehow making contact with its blood, perhaps through an open wound.

32. Capital punishment is legal in Cameroon.

Although the last execution took place in 1997, the death penalty is still enforced in Cameroon.

33. Cameroon drives on the right.

Vehicles in Cameroon observe right-hand traffic rules.

34. The lion is the national animal of Cameroon.