Located in West Africa, Cameroon is bordered by Nigeria, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea. In addition, Cameroon is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the southwest. Yaoundé is the capital of Cameroon. Christianity and Islam are the major religions. Cameroon’s official languages are English and French, but with about 250 different groups tied to Cameroon, more than 270 languages and dialects are spoken. The Niger-Congo group alone has 169 languages.
Cameroon is home to a stunning diversity of wildlife of which include chimpanzees, gorillas, sunbirds, antelopes, and elephants. Waza National Park, a popular tourist destination in northern Cameroon, is home to many of these species. Cameroon’s native plant species can also be explored in Limbe Botanic Garden where over 30,000 specimens are grown. Like it’s flora and fauna, Cameroon’s geography is just as diverse. In fact, every climate and ecological system in Africa is represented in Cameroon, from the desert plains in the north and the mountainous regions in central Cameroon, to the tropical rainforests in the south.
Cameroon’s history began more than 1,000 years prior when various tribes lived in the Camoorian highlands before migrating south in search of new farmland. In 1884, Cameroon became a German colony until the territory was divided between France and the United Kingdom after post-World War I League of Nations mandates. The French ruled eastern Cameroon from Yaoundé. The British loosely controlled western Cameroon from Nigeria. French Cameroon gained independence in 1960. A year later, the southern half of British Cameroon decided to join as a federation with the new republic, while the northern half decided to unite with Nigeria.
WIth its many different ethnic groups, Cameroon has evolved a variety of distinct cultures and customs with respect to music, art, festivals, and holidays. For example, the Muslim Fulani of the Adamawa region are known for elaborately worked leather goods and ornate gourds, while the Kirdi and the Matakam of the western mountains are known for their distinctive types of pottery. Religious holidays are celebrated according to Christian and Islamic faith traditions, such as Christmas and Ramadan, respectively. Cameroon also celebrates national holidays of which include Youth Day on February 11 and National Day on May 20, which commemorates the unification of the English- and French-speaking regions of the country in 1972.
As Cameroon’s most popular sport, soccer is played throughout the country. In fact, Cameroon was the first African country to advance to the semi-final of the 1990 FIFA World Cup. While traditional sports like horse racing, canoe racing, and wrestling are popular, they are becoming less common as more and more Cameroonians transition to city life.