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President Amadou Ahijo in the USA in 1961
Cameroon country profile


The modern state of Cameroon was created in 1961 by the unification of two former colonies, one British and one French.
Since then it has struggled from one-party rule to a multi-party system in which the freedom of expression is severely limited.
OVERVIEW
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Cameroon began its independence with a bloody insurrection which was suppressed only with the help of French forces.
There followed 20 years of repressive government under President Ahmadou Ahidjo. Nonetheless, Cameroon saw investment in agriculture, education, health care and transport.
In 1982 Mr Ahidjo was succeeded by his prime minister, Paul Biya. Faced with popular discontent, Mr Biya allowed multi-party presidential elections in 1992, which he won.

Bakassi handover followed years of bitter feuding with Nigeria
In 1994 and 1996 Cameroon and Nigeria fought over the disputed, oil-rich Bakassi peninsula. Nigeria withdrew its troops from the area in 2006 in line with an international court ruling which awarded sovereignty to Cameroon.
In November 2007 the Nigerian senate passed a motion declaring as illegal the Nigeria-Cameroon agreement for the Bakassi Peninsula to be handed over to Cameroon.
Internally, there are tensions over the two mainly English-speaking southern provinces. A secessionist movement, the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC), emerged in the 1990s and has been declared as illegal.
Cameroon has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. However, the country's progress is hampered by a level of corruption that is among the highest in the world.
In 1986 Cameroon made the world headlines when poisonous gases escaped from Lake Nyos, killing nearly 2,000 people.
FACTS
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Full name: Republic of Cameroon
Population: 19.9 million (UN, 2010)
Capital: Yaounde
Area: 475,442 sq km (183,568 sq miles)
Major languages: French, English, languages of Bantu, Semi-Bantu and Sudanic groups
Major religions: Christianity, Islam, indigenous beliefs
Life expectancy: 52 years (men), 53 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes
Main exports: Crude oil and petroleum products, timber, cocoa, aluminium, coffee, cotton
GNI per capita: US $1,170 (World Bank, 2009)
Internet domain: .cm
International dialling code: +237
MEDIA
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The government tightly controls the broadcast media. State-run CRTV operates national TV and radio networks and provincial radio stations.
State TV's monopoly was broken with the arrival in 2001 of TV Max, Cameroon's first private TV station. Dozens of private radio stations sprang up following a liberalisation of telecommunications in 2000.

Bibi Ngota, managing editor of the Cameroon Express, died in prison in April 2010 while awaiting trial.
Newspapers - the public's main source of news - are subject to considerable official restrictions.
Tough libel legislation is in place. In 2006 the media rights body Reporters Without Borders noted that: "Draconian laws regularly put journalists behind bars."
Secessionists in the mainly English-speaking southern provinces have used pirate radio broadcasts to spread their message.
BBC programming in English, French and Hausa is available across much of the country via FM relays.

The press

Le Messager - privately-owned, Douala-based
Cameroon Tribune - state-owned daily in French, English
Mutations - privately-owned French-language daily
The Herald - English-language
The Post - private, English-language
La Nouvelle Expression - private, French-language
Television
Cameroon Radio Television - state-run
Canal 2 - private
STV - private
Radio
Cameroon Radio Television - state-run
Radio Reine - Catholic station
Radio Siantou - private
Following independence, the country was ruled first by President Ahmadou Ahidjo (from 1960 to 1982) and then by President Paul Biya, who took office as president in 1982. A one-party regime was established in 1966 through the merger of the two governing parties and several opposition groups. In 1968 the ruling party was reconstituted as the Union national camerounaise (UNC) and was renamed once again the Rassemblement démocratique du peuple camerounais (Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement – RDPC or CPDM) in 1985.
Cameroon has never had a successful military coup. A plot by military officers was uncovered in 1979. A further planned coup was discovered in 1983 and in February 1984 the former President Ahmadou Ahidjo (then in exile where he subsequently died) was tried in absentia and found guilty, along with two of his military advisers. Two months later, the Republican Guard attempted a coup. This was foiled by the army, but 500–1,000 people were killed in the fighting; the Republican Guard was then disbanded.
In 1995, with the approval of all other member countries, Cameroon joined the Commonwealth.
LEADERS
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President: Paul Biya
Cameroon's parliament in April 2008 passed a controversial amendment to the constitution enabling President Paul Biya to run for a third term of office in 2011.
The veteran politician - who has ruled the country since 1982 - won a new seven-year term in presidential elections in October 2004. Commonwealth observers accepted the result, but said the poll lacked credibility in key areas. Opposition parties alleged widespread fraud.
Paul Biya, president since 1982
Africa's 'Big Men'
Mr Biya won multi-party polls in 1992
and 1997.
The latter were boycotted by the
three main opposition parties.
Before becoming president,
Mr Biya spent his entire political career in the service of
President Ahmadou Ahidjo,
becoming prime minister in 1975.
With Mr Ahidjo's resignation in 1982 he assumed the leadership and set about replacing his predecessor's northern allies with fellow southerners.
In 1983 he accused Mr Ahidjo of organising a coup against him, forcing the former president to flee the country.
Born in 1933, Paul Biya was educated in Cameroon and France, where he studied law at the Sorbonne.
Toment on Media and Journalist in cameroon
Paul Biya, president since 1982
Africa's 'Big Men'