The nation of Cameroon nickname is “Africa in miniature.”
Located in Central Africa, Cameroon is a diverse country where more than 200 different languages are spoken. And it’s not just Cameroon’s people that are diverse. The geography of Cameroon includes pristine white-sand beaches, active volcanoes, beautiful waterfalls, lush rainforests, arid deserts and gently rolling savannas. This country is also home to many of the same animals that can be found in popular safari destinations, such as Uganda or Kenya, including elephants, gazelles and hippos. Cameroon’s Deng Deng National Park even boasts a healthy population of western lowland gorillas.
United, but Divided
Cameroon shares its borders with Nigeria, Chad, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea, and is home to approximately 23.4 million people. It was formed in 1961 when a former British colony and a former French colony were united into one country. Unfortunately, the division between those two colonies is still apparent today. Anglophones, who only make up 20 percent of Cameroon’s population, have been pushing for separation. They want to claim two regions in the western part of the country and form their own independent republic, which they have already named Ambazonia.
Not surprisingly, the government does not want to give up this territory without a fight, and the often-violent conflict, which began in November 2016, has caused tens of thousands to flee the region, with many refugees heading to Nigeria.
Since 2013, Cameroon has also been dealing with the Boko Haram insurgency. The militant Islamic group had made raids on Cameroon from neighboring Nigeria, and it is believed to have killed as many as 2,500 Cameroonians between 2014 and 2017. The good news is that Cameroon has joined its forces with those of Nigeria, Benin, Chad and NIger to create a Multinational Joint Task Force. In an interview with Sputnik News, Joseph Beti Assomo, the Minister Delegate at the Presidency of the Republic of Cameroon in Charge of Defense stated, “… since something like one and a half years, we are crushing Boko Haram, and we are going to win.”
The Two Sides of Cameroon
Cameron’s poverty rate is a discouraging 40 percent, with widespread income inequalities. Most of this country’s poor reside in its rural areas, especially in the Far North and the North, where 72 percent of the population live in poverty, according to the World Bank. These areas are, in fact, home to 55.8 percent of Cameroon’s poor.
There is hope, though. Cameroon is blessed with many natural resources, including gas, oil and iron ore, and it also exports many agricultural products, such as bananas, cocoa, coffee, timber and pineapples. This country also has room to grow when it comes to its tourism industry. Currently, tourism only accounts for one percent of Cameroon’s gross domestic product, but the country is actively trying to lure in more visitors.
Areas of Need
The attacks by Boko Haram and the conflicts caused by the separatist movement have led to a large number of internally displaced people (IDP). These refugees are often in urgent need of humanitarian aid. In addition, many of the residents who reside in Cameroon’s Far North live well below the poverty line and are also in desperate need of food and medical assistance.