Country Profile: Cameroon
Official languagesFrench, English
Area475, 442 sq km
Population17,795,000 (2005 est.)
Although French and English are the official languages of Cameroon, the country is home to 230 languages, made up of Afro-Asiatic, Nilo-Saharan and Niger-Congo. Although - due to the country's colonial past - Cameroon strives to be bilingual, in fact few citizens speak both languages, and some speak neither. In the northwest and southwest, most people speak Cameroonian Pidgin English, in the north, Fulfulde, and in the centre, south and east, Ewondo. Camfranglais is a new pidgin form of dialect, used in urban areas.
Cameroon has a relatively prosperous economy for an African state, enjoying strong trade relations with France, Italy, South Korea, Spain and the UK. Cameroon's is the dominant economy within the Bank of Central African States, and is also part of the Customs and Economic Union of South Africa, and the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa. Under direction by the World Bank and the IMF, Cameroon has been following programmes to privatise, reduce poverty and increase economic growth.
Much of Cameroon's GDP comes from agriculture and forestry, because of the nature of its climate. There is commercial cultivation of bananas, cocoa, palm oil, tea, rubber, coffee, sugar and tobacco, as well as livestock and seafood. Logging is another key industry, and is managed carefully to ensure it is done in a sustainable way. Tourism is an increasingly important industry in Cameroon, especially in the country's coastal areas.
Petroleum refinery is still a key industry in the country, although levels have dropped in the past ten years. Rapids and waterfalls create the perfect setting for harvesting hydroelectric energy - which provides most of Cameroon's power, and has the added bonus that it is an environmental and sustainable form of energy production. The remainder of the country's energy comes from oil-powered thermal engines.
Music and dance are an important part of Cameroon festivities, with traditional dances and the use of a variety of instruments. Pop music is another popular form of entertainment, and much of it is informed by Nigerian music. Film and TV focus on European and African themes, while crafts such as basket making and jewellery are particularly popular. Sport is advocated by national policy, for example wrestling, canoe racing, as well as running and football.
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