Capital : Yaoundé
Size: 184 000 sq m Popn:12 198 000
The area around the Niger Delta was divided into several states including Old Calabar, and Kwawarafa further inland. The area was on the Portuguese sea route to India and the coastal area was influenced by Portuguese from 1472, and Dutch, English and French traders and slavers from the C15th to 19th.
The Cameroons became a German protectorate in 1884 but after WWI, the country was placed under British mandate in the West and French in the East. France had about 80% of the country. The arrangement was confirmed by the UN after WWII with both sections becoming United Nations trust territories. In 1948 a nationalist group, UPC, demanded unification and independence. It was harshly suppressed and French Cameroon became a state within the French Community. Mbida was installed by the French as Prime Minister to lead the country to independence which came in 1960 with Ahmadou Ahidjo as President of the Republic of Cameroon when much of the country was in rebellion. In 1961, the northern part of British Cameroons joined Nigeria and the south joined the Republic of Cameroon, forming the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The French part became East Cameroon and the British, West Cameroon.
Rebellion continued and two UPC leaders were killed. In 1961, East and West Cameroon were unified and the six political parties merged into the Cameroon National Union (UNC) in 1966. In 1971 left-wing extremist oppostion to the UNC was crushed and the federal system was abandoned with a new national assembly being elected in 1973. Ahidjo was re-elected in 1975 with Paul Biya as the first Prime Minister but they quarrelled and the former fled to France. Many of his supporters rebelled and were executed. The nation's name was changed from the United Republic of Cameroon to the Republic of Cameroon. Biya's government became increasingly autocratic but he allowed elections after 1986 when he was re-elected with over 98% of the vote. There were some constitutional reforms in the early 1990s after widespread public unrest and the first multi-party elections for 28 years were held in 1992 with Biya being re-elected once again.
The ethnic groups of Berbers and Negroes have their own local languages but French is the official one. They are mainly Muslim in the North and Christian in the South with some animism.
This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.
Copies may be made for personal use only.
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