26 interesting facts about Cameroon

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The most interesting facts about Cameroon, from a poisonous lake to the world’s largest frog that builds its own ponds using rocks.

A gorilla in the rainforest
Interesting facts about Cameroon include the world’s largest living primate (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Cameroon
Capital city: Yaounde
Population: 27,744,989 
Area: 475,440 sq km
Major languages: English, French
Time zone: UTC+1 (West Africa Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Cameroon

1. Archaeological evidence suggests the African country of Cameroon has been inhabited by humans for at least 50,000 years.
– Source: Britannica

2. Cameroon is often referred to as “Africa in miniature” due to its geographical and cultural diversity.
– Source: BBC News

Map of Cameroon
Map of Cameroon (Shutterstock)

3. Cameroon is home to over 200 different ethnic groups and has been described as an “ethnic crossroads”.
– Source: Britannica

4. There are as many as 275 local languages spoken in Cameroon, making it one of the most linguistically diverse countries.
– Source: Ethnologue

5. In fact, Cameroon is the ninth most linguistically diverse country in the world and the second in Africa after Nigeria.
– Source: Ethnologue

6. The flag of Cameroon comprises vertically strips of green, red and yellow with a central yellow star. The star symbolises national unity, the green stripe symbolises 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.
– Source: Britannica

The flag of Cameroon
The flag of Cameroon (Shutterstock)

7. The first Europeans to explore Cameroon were Portuguese navigators who sailed up the Wouri River in 1472.
– Source: Britannica

8. They initially named the river Rio dos Camarões (River of Shrimps), after the numerous shrimps found there.
– Source: Britannica

9. In 1520, Portuguese colonialists settled in the region permanently and set up sugar plantations and began trading slaves.
– Source: BBC News

10. The Dutch took control during the 1600s, and then Germany took over in 1884 creating the German colony of Kamerun.
– Source: BBC News

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.
– Source: Britannica

12. In 1984 the country’s name was changed to the Republic of Cameroon.
– Source: BBC News

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.
– Source: Smithsonian, NASA

The poisonous Lake Nyos in Cameroon
The poisonous Lake Nyos in Cameroon (Shutterstock)

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.
– Source: Britannica

15. The Cameroon team – known as the Indomitable Lions – were 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.
– Source: The Guardian

16. Mount Cameroon at 4,095m (13,435ft) Cameroon’s highest mountain and the highest peak in sub-Saharan western and central Africa
– Source: Britannica

17. Mount Cameroon is also one of Africa’s largest and most active volcanoes. The stratovolcano last erupted in 2012.
– Source: Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program (GVP)

Hikers on Mount Cameroon
Hikers on Mount Cameroon (Shutterstock)

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.
– Source: The Telegraph, Britannica

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.
– Source: African Wildlife Fund

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.
– Source: UNESCO

A traditional hut in Dja Reserve, Cameroon
A traditional hut in Dja Reserve (Shutterstock)

21. In 2016, Cameroon’s government burned 2,000 tusks and 1,753 ivory objects to discourage poaching.
– Source: WWF

22. In 2018, President Paul Biya was elected for a seventh term. Biya has been president since 1982, making him Africa’s second-longest serving leader and, at 87 in 2020, he is the oldest leader in Africa.
– Source: Reuters, Washington Post
* Biya was Prime Minister of Cameroon from 1975 to 1982 and therefore by one measure is the current longest-ruling non-royal national leader (Wikipedia)

23. The world’s largest frog can be found in Cameroon. The goliath frog (Conraua goliath) can grow up to 34cm long, weigh over 3.2kg and builds its own ponds using heavy rocks.
– Source: New Scientist

The goliath frog in a pond
The goliath frog (Shutterstock)

24. Lake Chad – once one of the world’s largest lakes – sits on the border of Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria. The lake has shrunk by 90% since the 1960s due to climate change, population increase and unregulated irrigation.
– Source: BBC News

25. Mongo Beti (1932-2001) and Ferdinand Oyono (1929-2010), two of Africa’s foremost writers were from Cameroon. Both wrote extensively on issues surrounding anti-colonialism and African independence.
– Source: The Guardian, The Guardian

26. The critically endangered Western Lowland Gorilla (a subspecies of the gorilla – the largest living primate) can be found in Cameroon.
– Source: WWF

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