Cameroon is one of the most diverse countries in Africa and oft referred to as "Africa in miniature". In Cameroom lays the highest mountain in West Africa and last but not least Cameroon is full of wonderful friendly and warmhearted people. Cameroon is a Central African nation on the Gulf of Guinea, bordered by Nigeria, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. Mount Cameroon (13,350 ft), is the highest elevation in the country. The main rivers are the Benue, Nyong, and Sanaga.
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 U.N. 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.
France set up Cameroon as an autonomous state in 1957, and the next year its legislative assembly voted for independence by 1960. In 1959 a fully autonomous government of Cameroon was formed under Ahmadou Ahidjo. Cameroon became an independent republic on Jan. 1, 1960. In 1961 the southern part of the British territory joined the new Federal Republic of Cameroon and the northern section voted for unification with Nigeria. The president of Cameroon since independence, Ahmadou Ahidjo, was replaced in 1982 by the prime minister, Paul Biya. Both administrations were characterized by authoritarian rule.
In 1975, Paul Biya, the country’s dominant political figure in recent years, took up his first major appointment as prime minister. When Ahidjo stepped down of his own volition in 1982, Biya was chosen as his successor. Since then, as head of the UNC and its successor party, the Rassemblement Démocratique du Peuple Camerounais (RDPC), Biya has achieved political domination over Cameroon, seeing off the two major threats to his rule. The first of these came in 1984, when Ahidjo, discontented with the direction of his successor’s policies, launched a military coup. It failed. In 1992, the leader of a two-year-old semi-legal opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), John Fru Ndi, presented a major challenge to Biya at the year’s presidential election. Biya eventually claimed the election under uncertain circumstances; Fru Ndi was put under house arrest amid a state of emergency.
Cameroon joined the Commonwealth in 1993, although Cameroon also maintains a close relationship with France. Relations with Nigeria, Cameroon’s powerful neighbor. Cameroon joined the UN Security Council in 2002, as one of three African representatives with Angola and Guinea and as a result found itself subject to serious pressure over the Iraq issue during early 2003. Cameroon has itself been involved in mediation in Togo in the dispute between the government and its opponent.
Cameroon is mainly comprised of three different groups: the Sudanese who settled in the extreme north, who are mainly animists; the Arabs around Lake Chad, who are predominately Muslim; and the Foulbe who are mainly Christian. Cameroon is host to Mt. Cameroon, West Africa's highest peak as well as an active volcano. Cameroon's name is derived from 'Rio dos Camaroes' meaning 'River of Prawns', the Portuguese name for the Wouri River estuary.
French and English are both official languages but the former is widely used. The people follow various religious beliefs- 24 percent adhere to traditional religions, about 21 percent follow Islam and the remaining population follow Christianity. Among the more important ethnic groups are the Bamileke, a Bantu-speaking people, and the Fulani who are Muslims. While about half of the people of Cameroon live in urban areas, the other half, consisting of farmers, live in small towns or villages in southern and central Cameroon.