The African Republic of Cameroon finds itself at the crossroads between Central and West Africa, which has made it an interesting location throughout history. Having gone through division between French and British colonial empires, Cameroon has developed into an extremely diverse place, often referred to as “Africa in miniature” as it houses so many cultures, languages and religions, as well as geographical diversity.
Let’s have a look at interesting facts about Cameroon!
1. There are 250 languages spoken in Cameroon
Cameroon really is home to so many cultures and identities. Its 20 million people speak about 250 different languages, and the country’s official languages are actually French and English due to its colonial past. However, there are more than 1700 linguistic groups in the country!
2. It’s one of the wettest places in the world
A fun fact about Cameroon is that it has so much rainfall every year that it’s been added to the list of the wettest places on Earth. With such high rainfall, Cameroon’s soils are very fertile, especially around the volcanic Mount Cameroon.
3. A lot of our cocoa comes from Cameroon
In 2010, Cameroon earned $600 million just from exporting cocoa around the world. In fact, it’s the world’s sixth biggest producer of cocoa beans, alongside other exports such as timber, tea, peanuts, rubber, cotton, coffee and bananas.
4. Cameroon is “Africa in miniature”
As there is such a varied terrain in Cameroon, it’s often called “Africa in miniature,” an interesting fact about Cameroon. It has rainforests as well as the desert, swamps and savannahs. Its richness of geographical features makes it quite unique, although a very large part of its rainforests has been cut down for logging. This is believed to have caused droughts inside Africa as there is less moisture circulating, but the government have prioritised logging over environmental concerns because of the financial benefit to an otherwise poor country.
5. A lake with a strange record is in Cameroon
Lake Nyos holds the record for the largest number of non-drowning deaths of any lake in the world. This is a crater lake and it erupted in 1986, with carbon dioxide that killed over 1,800 people as well as all livestock within a 15.5-mile radius. Death by asphyxiation has also occurred from another lake, Lake Monoun, also in Cameroon.
6. Children don’t have an easy life in Cameroon
Cameroon suffers from widespread malaria, which is believed to have killed one in five of children dying before the age of 5 in the country. This is added to the statistics that 160 in 1,000 children are likely to die before that age.
Moreover, in Cameroon, 1.3 million children are estimated to be orphans of one or both parents.
7. Cameroon has unique beaches
On a lighter note, Douala beaches in Cameroon are unique in the world for their chocolate-colored sand which comes from volcanic rock, a fun Cameroon fact.
8. The country is named after a crustacean
The name Cameroon comes from “Rio dos Camaroes” – “River of Prawns.” This was what the Portuguese explorer Fernando Po named the river Wouri which goes through Cameroon and where he found large numbers of prawns when he first arrived in the area in 1472. The name has stuck, Cameroon being the English version, and it became the country’s official name. This is the only country in the world named after a crustacean!
9. Mount Cameroon is the highest in West Africa
The main mountain in Cameroon is a volcano and the highest peak in West Africa at 4,040 m high. It is known by its indigenous name Mongo ma Ndemi (“Mountain of Greatness”).
This is an active volcano that’s erupted several times, most recently in February 2012. In Cameroonian folklore, the core of the mountain hides powerful spirits, including a mountain god who makes the ground shake and spits fire when he is angry (hence the eruptions).
10. It’s home to many thermal springs
Because of the volcanic activity prevalent throughout Cameroon, we can find many thermal springs there. Some are close to Mount Cameroon and others in the Manengoumba area near Lake Moundou.
Not only are these warm waters, but they can also be used for harnessing the gas, and provide 21% of the country’s requirements in this respect.
11. Cameroon were the first to reach the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals
Football is very popular in Cameroon and they are proud to have reached the quarter-final stage of the World Cup in 1990. An interesting fact about Cameroon is that this made them the first African country to do so, with a victory over legendary footballing nation Colombia nonetheless. Their football team is known as the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon and globally recognised as one of the best African football teams.
12. All plants and animals in tropical Africa can be found here
There are at least 409 species of mammals and 165 species of birds living in Cameroon. Due to its climate and geographical diversity, all the flora and fauna you’d expect in tropical parts of Africa can be found in Cameroon.
Waza National Park, in the Far North Region of Cameroon, is an amazing UNESCO biosphere reserve where all these can be seen. You can see acacia trees, Yaere savannah forests, and animals such as lions, African elephants, hyenas, hartebeest, roan, waterbuck, gazelles, Sudan cheetah and West African giraffes.
13. Dancing is a huge part of Cameroonian culture
One of the core parts of Cameroonian culture is music and dance. There are choreographed dances to accompany all the festivals, ceremonies and gatherings, ranging from entertainment only to religious rituals.
Cameroon is home to a great diversity of cultures and animal wildlife, as well as amazing geographical features. This is a unique country, with volcanoes and rainforests, where people speak hundreds of languages and have diverse traditions and heritage. After changing hands throughout the colonial period from German to British and French and going through many transformations, it’s a remarkable destination in West Africa and a great football nation.
I hope that this ariticle on Cameroon facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!