20 Fascinating Facts About Cameroon
1. Archaeological evidence suggests the African country of Cameroon has been inhabited by humans for at least 50,000 years.
2. Cameroon is often referred to as “Africa in miniature” due to its geographical and cultural diversity.
3. Cameroon is home to over 200 different ethnic groups and has been described as an “ethnic crossroads”.
4. There are as many as 275 local languages spoken in Cameroon, making it one of the most linguistically diverse countries.
5. In fact, Cameroon is the ninth most linguistically diverse country in the world and the second in Africa after Nigeria.
6. The flag of Cameroon comprises vertical strips of green, red, and yellow with a central yellow star. The star symbolizes national unity, the green stripe symbolizes the vegetation of the south, the yellow the savannas of the north, and the red represents a link between the north and south and stands for national sovereignty.
7. The first Europeans to explore Cameroon were Portuguese navigators who sailed up the Wouri River in 1472.
8. They initially named the river Rio dos Camarões (River of Shrimps), after the numerous shrimps found there.
9. In 1520, Portuguese colonialists settled in the region permanently and set up sugar plantations, and began trading slaves.
10. The Dutch took control during the 1600s, then Germany took over in 1884 creating the German colony of Kamerun.
11. After the First World War, Cameroon was divided between Britain and France, then in 1961, the two colonies unified after gaining independence and became the United Republic of Cameroon.
12. In 1984 the country’s name was changed to the Republic of Cameroon.
13. In 1986, poisonous gas was discharged from Lake Nyos killing around 1,800 people and 3,500 livestock as well as innumerable birds and insects. Carbon dioxide from a pocket of volcanic magma below the Earth’s crust slowly accumulates on the bottom of the lake before eventually discharging. Scientists have now installed pipes to safely vent the gas.
14. Cameroon has the second most successful African football team after Egypt. They have won the Africa Cup of Nations championship five times and have been runners-up twice.
15. The Cameroon team – known as the Indomitable Lions – was also the first African side to reach the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup when in 1990 they lost to England in a close-run match.
16. Mount Cameroon at 4,095m (13,435ft) is Cameroon’s highest mountain and the highest peak in sub-Saharan western and central Africa.
17. Mount Cameroon is also one of Africa’s largest and most active volcanoes. The stratovolcano last erupted in 2012.
18. Debundscha Point on Mount Cameroon (along with the nearby village of Debundscha) is one of the wettest places on Earth. It has a mean annual precipitation of more than 10,000mm – an average rarely seen elsewhere in the world.
19. Cameroon is also home to rich biodiversity. It has 220,000 sq km of tropical forests which are home to at least 9,000 plant species, approximately 900 bird species, and around 320 mammals.
20. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dja Reserve is one of Africa’s largest and best-protected rainforests. Founded in 1950, 90% of the reserve remains largely untouched and contains 107 mammal species, five of which are threatened.