Cameroon History

Cameroon. West central African state located between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. In Cameroon, three very different regions are distinguished: the littoral plain, the central plateau with the Adamaua massif to the north, and the north, which includes the Lake Chad basin and the Sahel. Along the coast, the Cameroon massif rises isolated (4,070 m). The coasts are generally low, except in the south, where they are rocky and jagged. Cameroon has more than 19 million residents, as well as an area of 475,442 km2. The country is populated by Sudanese, Bantu, Bamilekés and pygmies. All these groups tend to be animists, although there are also minorities of Muslims and Catholics in the country. There is no official religion. Thanks to the rapid development of the oil industry and the dynamization of the agricultural sector, Cameroon is among the African countries, one of those that have reached the highest standard of living. Agriculture has traditionally been the mainstay of the Cameroonian economy. Today it is highly diversified and is developing dynamically. More than 70% of the workforce works in this sector. The main agricultural products are coffee, cocoa, cotton, sugar cane, banana, among others.

Pre-colonial period

According to, there are archaeological remains that show that humanity has inhabited the territory of Cameroon since the Neolithic. The people who have been in the area the longest are the Pygmy groups, such as the Baka. The “Sao” culture appeared around Lake Chad around AD 500 [1] and gave way to the Kanem-Bornu Empire. Other kingdoms and communities appeared in the west as well, such as the Bamileke, the Bamum, and the Tikar. [2]

Portuguese navigators reached the Cameroonian coast in 1472. They named it Rio dos Camarões (Shrimp River), after noting the abundance of prawns and river crabs in the area; from that name the current denomination of the country is derived. [3] In the following centuries the Europeans traded with the coastal towns while the missionaries settled in the interior.

In the early 19th century, Modibo Adama led Fulani soldiers in a jihad in the north against the Kirdi (non-Muslim) peoples and Muslims who still retained pagan elements. The Adama founded the Adamawa emirate, a vassal of the Sokoto caliphate of Usman dan fodio. [4] Groups fleeing the Fulani warriors in turn displaced others, leading to a significant redistribution of the population. [5]

In 1884, the German Empire began to erect factories in the region and implanted the colonial regime, but after the defeat suffered by Germany in the First World War, the territory was divided into two terms, one corresponding to France (the largest). and another to the UK. French Cameroon acceded to internal autonomy in 1959 and the following year proclaimed its total independence as a Republic. In 1961 the southern part of British Cameroon decided to join the Republic of Cameroon, while the North preferred to join Nigeria.

Colonial period

After the German Empire claimed the territory as its own in 1884, it became the colony of Cameroon. [6] The Germans moved into the interior of the country, breaking the monopoly on trade exercised by coastal peoples such as the Douala and intensifying their control over the region. They also started plantations along the coast. [7] They made large investments in the infrastructure of the colony: construction of railways, roads and hospitals. However, indigenous peoples were reluctant to work on these projects, so the government instigated a severe system of forced labor. [8] Following the defeat of Germany in World War I, Cameroon came under the mandate of the League of Nations, and was divided into the French Cameroun and the British Cameroons in 1919. [7]

The territories acquired by Germany in 1911, called as a whole Neukamerun (in Spanish “New Cameroon”), became part of French Equatorial Africa. [9]

France improved the infrastructure of its territory through large investments, skilled workers, and continued forced labor. [8] French Cameroon surpassed the British in gross national product, education, and health facilities. However, these improvements reached only Douala, Foumban, Yaoundé, Kribi and the territory between them. The economy was closely linked to the French one; raw materials sent to Europe were re-sold to the colony once manufactured. [10]

Britain administered its territory from neighboring Nigeria. The natives complained that this made them a “colony of a colony.” There was a movement of workers of Nigerian origin to southern Cameroon, eliminating the need for forced labor but causing discomfort to indigenous peoples. The British paid little attention to northern Cameroon. [7]

The mandate of the League of Nations became the United Nations Trusteeship Council in 1946. The question of independence became a burning issue in French Cameroon, where different political parties had different ideas about the goals and timing of self-government. [10] The Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC), the most radical party, advocated immediate independence and the introduction of the socialist economy. [11] France outlawed the party on 13 of July of 1955, which led to a guerrilla war and the assassination of its leader, Ruben Um Nyobé. France finally guaranteed the autonomy of the territory. [12] In British Cameroon the issue was different, as they debated between reunifying with French Cameroon or joining Nigeria. [10]

After independence

On 1 January as as 1960 the French Cameroon gained independence. Its first president was Ahmadou Ahidjo. The 1 of October of 1961 southern British Cameroons reunified with French Cameroun to form the Republic of Cameroon. British northern Cameroon chose instead to join Nigeria. The war with the UPC allowed Ahidjo to concentrate power in the presidency. The resistance was finally suppressed in 1971, but it continued in a state of emergency. [12] Ahidjo insisted on nationalism avoiding tribalism. The National Union of Cameroon (CNU) became the only party in the nation on September 1, 1966. In 1972 the federal system of government was abolished in favor of the centralist government since Yaoundé. [13]

Economically, Ahidjo undertook a policy of liberalism. [12] Agriculture was the initial priority, but the discovery of oil fields in 1970 changed the situation. The oil money was used to create a financial reserve, pay growers, and finance development projects. The sectors of communications, education, transportation and hydroelectric infrastructure expanded mainly. However, Ahidjo gave the positions of responsibility in the new industries to his allies as a reward. Many failed due to incompetence. [14]

Ahidjo resigned 4 of November of 1982, leaving power in the hands of the successor according to the constitution, Paul Biya. However, Ahidjo continued to exercise control of the CNU, which led to a power struggle between the two presidents. When Ahidjo tried to establish the party’s right to elect President Biya and his allies pressured him to resign. Biya held elections for party officials and for the National Assembly of Cameroon. However, after a failed coup on April 6, 1984, he chose to follow the style of government of his predecessor. [15] [16] Cameroon gained international attention 21 as August as 1986 when Lake Nyos spewed toxic fumes and killed between 1,700 and 2,000 people [17]

Biya’s first major challenge was the economic crisis that hit the country from the mid- 1980s to the late 1990s, a result of the international economic climate, drought, falling oil prices, political corruption and mismanagement.. Cameroon asked for foreign aid, cut funding for education, government and public health, and privatized industries. [18] This produced discontent in the English-speaking part of the country.

The leaders of the former British zone have been calling in recent years for greater autonomy or secession in what would become the Republic of Ambazonia. [19]

Cameroon History

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