Cameroon is an independent nation in Central Africa. With the capital city of Yaounde, Cameroon 2020 population is estimated at 26,545,874 according to countryaah. Of all the peoples in Cameroon, the pygmy people baka (or bakola) have lived the longest in the area. Between the 15th and 19th centuries, many slaves were brought from the area to America. In 1884 Cameroon became a German protectorate. The Germans were driven away during the First World War and Cameroon was divided into a French and a British zone. French Cameroon became independent in 1960 and the following year the current Republic of Cameroon was formed.
Archaeological finds in various parts of Cameroon indicate that people lived there already 50,000 years ago, but little is known about this period. The first known residents were pygmy people. Later, Diet-speaking people immigrated from the south. They settled in the area of today’s southern and western Cameroon. In the 11th century AD, the Muslim Fulani people from the Niger basin in the northwest came to the northern part of today’s Cameroon. For Cameroon political system, please check cancermatters.
- AbbreviationFinder.org: Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Cameroon, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
Portuguese sailors arrived in the area of today’s Cameroon in 1472. In the Wouri River they discovered river crayfish which they mistakenly believed were shrimp – on Portuguese camarões – and so the country got its name. With the arrival of Europeans, a lively trade started on the coasts. Cameroon became a major supplier to the slave trade across the Atlantic. Inland there were kingdoms that sold slaves to European merchants, who shipped them to America. At the beginning of the 19th century the slave trade went back. Instead, Europeans started trading rubber and palm oil.
A French and a British zone
In the 1880s, the European superpowers competed to seize land in Africa. In Cameroon, the Germans came before the British and made the area a German protectorate in 1884. The Germans laid the foundation for a school system and built roads and railways at the price of many Africans’ lives. The workers succumbed to illness, overwork, and malnutrition to such an extent that the colonial administration suggested plantation owners to build special cemeteries for them.
During the First World War, French, British and Belgian forces jointly expelled the Germans from Cameroon. After the end of the war in 1918, the area was divided into a French and a British zone. France took four-fifths of the land area, while the British received the fifth that ran along the border with Nigeria in the northwest. The division was confirmed in 1922 when the United Nations’ forerunner of the League of Nations instructed Britain and France to manage their respective territories.
French Cameroon was placed directly under French rule and the cultural influence of the colonial power became strong. The road network and the railways were expanded with the help of forced labor, and the coffee and cocoa cultivations developed into bearing export industries. The British did not invest as much in developing British Cameroon, but administered the area as part of their colony of Nigeria with local chieftains who were allowed to implement British policy.
The Republic of Cameroon is formed
After World War II, both French and British Cameroon demanded independence and a reunification of the country. In French Cameroon, a number of political parties were formed. In 1948, the Cameroonian People’s Union (UPC) was founded, which stood for “unifying and immediate independence”. In 1956, the party’s endeavors culminated in a revolt that was defeated. The UPC was banned, but launched a guerrilla war with Communist signs. The colonial power’s attempt to quell the uprising hit the douala, baliméké and base people especially hard.
In 1957, French Cameroon gained internal autonomy. The domestic government was led by André-Marie Mbida with Ahmadou Ahidjo as deputy head of government. The French prohibited the new government from negotiating with the UPC, which led to new fighting in the coming years. The government had strong domestic support and managed to negotiate the country’s independence in January 1960. Ahmadou Ahidjo was elected President of the Republic of Cameroon the same year.
In British Cameroon, liberation from colonialism slowed. It was not until 1955 that a political party with independence and unity was founded on the program. Following a 1961 referendum, the northern part of British Cameroon joined Nigeria while the southern part merged with the Republic of Cameroon in a federation.