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The Republic of Cameroon is a Central Africa country with a coastline on the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. Surrounding countries include Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea.

French and English are the official languages of Cameroon, although French is prevalent. Cameroonian Pidgin English is the common language in the country's formerly British territories, and a combination of English, French, and Pidgin, known as FrancAnglais, has become popular in urban centers.

After the First World War, Cameroon was divided into English and British areas, which created Anglophone and Francophone regions within the country. The southwest and northwest provinces are English-speaking, while French is more common in the remaining provinces. French and English are the official languages, but about two hundred and fifty tribal languages are spoken within Cameroon, as well. Only those who have completed a secondary education are likely to be fluent in both English and French, although most people are fluent in at least one native language and one official language.

The area now known as Cameroon was initially inhabited during the Neolithic Era, the longest continuous inhabitants being the Baka, which Europeans might know as the Pygmies. The Bantu entered the area around two thousand years ago.

Portuguese ships arrived on the coast in 1472, and gave Cameroon its name. During the next few centuries, other Europeans came, and Christian missionaries began making their way inland. Arabs also came, and the northern regions of Cameroon became part of the Arab slave-trading network.

After a German company built a warehouse in Cameroon in 1868, Germany began to establish roots, claiming the territory as the colony of Kamerun in 1884. They met with some resistance from native people when they began to push inland, so their presence was felt mostly along the coastal areas, where they used a harsh system of forced African labor to work on banana, cocoa, palm oil, and rubber plantations.

The German colony of Kamerun was split into French Cameroon and British Cameroon after Germany's defeat in World War I, and Germany's influence on Cameroon is largely lost today. In the French Cameroon, the local economy was integrated with the French economy. France invested in the infrastructure of French Cameroon and modified the German system of forced labor. Britain administered its territory from Nigeria, which left the British region neglected. Britain ended forced labor, but used Nigerian migrant workers to work the fields, causing conflicts with the local people.

When France outlawed a radical opposition political party in 1955, a long guerrilla war erupted. In the more peaceful British section, the question was whether to unify with French Cameroon or to join Nigeria, as Britain had phased out its African holdings.

The French Cameroon gained independence in 1960, uniting with the formerly British Cameroon to create the Republic of Cameroon. The new nation has experienced non-violent and violent protests, including a failed coup in the 1980s, and an ongoing war against Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group operating in northern Cameroon and other parts of Africa. Since 2016, the country has endured a series of protests from its English-speaking regions, which has resulted in some deaths and some jailings.

Cameroon has an elected President who creates policy, administers governmental departments and agencies, and is in command of the military. The president appoints government officials at all levels, including the prime minister, who is the official head of the government. An elected National Assembly enacts legislation. The Senate, a second house of parliament, was established in 2013. The country's legal system is based on French civil law, and judges at all levels are appointed by the president.

International human rights organizations charge that corruption is common within the Cameroon government, and have accused its police and military forces with mistreating and torturing suspected criminals, ethnic groups, and political activists. In 2017, the president shut down the Internet in Cameroon's English-speaking region for three months.

Administratively, Cameroon is divided into ten semi-autonomous regions: Far North, North, Adamawa, Centre, East, South Province, Littoral, Southwest, Northwest, and West. Each region is in the hands of a governor appointed by the president.

About two-thirds of the population of Cameroon name Christianity as their religion, Catholicism being strongest. Those from the French-speaking regions are largely Catholic, while the English-speaking areas are Protestant. Islam is a minority faith, but is strong in the north. Traditional religious practices are observed by many, and often mixed with Christian practices.

 

 

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