From around AD 1000 presumably settled in the area of what is now Cameroon Bantu-speaking peoples who lived mainly from migrant agriculture and cattle breeding. They displaced the pygmies living there until then into the impenetrable rainforests in the south. From 1200 the Islamic Fulbe settled in the north.
In 1471, the Portuguese seafarer Fernão do P¨®o was the first European to enter the coast of what is now national territory. Because of the abundance of crabs at the mouth of a river, he called it “Rio dos Camarões”, from which the country’s name can probably be derived.
In 1495, according to the Spanish-Portuguese Treaty of Tordesillas, the Portuguese took possession of the west African mainland coast between the Niger Delta down to Cape Santa Clara (now Gabon) and the islands in front of it. In the area of what is now Cameroon, a lively trade in ivory, palm oil and slaves developed between Portuguese and indigenous tribes (especially the Bamil¨¦k¨¦ in the southwest and the Douala in the northern coastal region). From 1600 the Netherlands was significantly involved in the slave trade in this area.
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In 1778 Portugal exchanged the area (also today’s Equatorialquinea and Gabon) with Spain for the corresponding lands in Brazil. In the first half of the 19th century, Great Britain gained increasing influence in the region and stopped the slave trade from 1845 (officially banned since 1834). In the second half of the 19th century, German merchants were able to establish themselves on the coast of what is now Cameroon. In 1884, a contract was concluded between a representative of the German government and the local Douala chiefs, which made the area a German protectorate. In the following, the German colonialists pushed through their own economic concerns against the resistance of the local population, and large-scale cocoa, palm and rubber plantations emerged. With the other European colonial powers,
The path to independence
In the course of the First World War, the area was occupied by the Allied troops and the former German colony was divided or Great Britain and France were assumed to be international mandate areas (1922): A small western part of the country was assigned to British Nigeria and from there as West Cameroon France took over the areas it had ceded to Germany in 1911 and set up its own administrative center for the country in the city of Yaound¨¦. In 1940 French Cameroon was placed under the General Governorate of French Equatorial Africa and administered from Brazzaville (now the capital of the Republic of the Congo). The rebellion against French domination increased sharply after the end of the Second World War.Local self-government was gradually introduced in the French trust area. After numerous bloody uprisings in the 1950s, according to AbbreviationFinder, French Cameroon received its own constitution in 1958 and limited internal autonomy. Ahmadou Ahidjo from the Fulbe people became the first president of the country. The city of Yaound¨¦ became the seat of government. In January 1960 the independence of the “R¨¦publique du Cameroun” was proclaimed. In the British-administered part of Cameroon, the north voted in October 1961 against an affiliation to the new republic, the south for a federation with the Republic of Cameroon in the form of a federal republic.
In order to alleviate the ethnic tensions existing between the north and south of Cameroon, the existing political parties were forced in September 1966 to merge into the unified party “Union Nationale Cam¨¦rounaise” (UNC) (from 1985 “Rassemblement D¨¦mocratique du Peuple Cam¨¦rounais”, RDPC). Officially there was no longer any opposition, but the “Union de Populations Cam¨¦rounaises” (UPC) was operating underground against the government of President Ahmadou Ahidjo. In 1972 this changed the federal system of the state to a strongly centralized one (“United Republic of Cameroon”, from 1984 “Republic of Cameroon”), which further intensified the ethnic conflicts.
Cameroon under Biya
In 1982 Ahmadou Ahidjo resigned as President and appointed Paul Biya as his successor, who had headed government since 1975 as Prime Minister of the country. Similar to its predecessor, Biya ruled dictatorially and suppressed opposition movements. Biya was confirmed in office in the first free presidential election since independence in 1992, but international observers accused him of massive electoral fraud. After the relative prosperity to which the 1970s oil boom had given the country, the economy collapsed due to the depletion of oil reserves in the early 1990s. President Biya came under pressure from demands by foreign lenders for more democracy in Cameroon (in 1994 the country’s external debt was approx.seven billion US dollars).
In the mid-1990s, there were conflicts with neighboring Nigeria, the occasion being the newly discovered oil and gas deposits in the Gulf of Guinea, to which both states claimed; the argument continues to flare up to this day. By the turn of the millennium, a three-year structural adjustment and poverty reduction program by the World Bank and the IMF in Cameroon had ended, which had a clearly positive impact on the country’s economy.
A constitutional amendment in 1996 required the implementation of decentralization measures, the creation of a second parliamentary chamber (Senate) and a restriction of the President’s term of office to seven years. A constitutional amendment in 2008 lifted the former mandate limit for the President and allowed unlimited re-election. The indirect elections to the Senate – the members of the municipal councils were entitled to vote – were held for the first time in April 2013. The Senate started its work in May 2013. Ten senators represent the ten regions in the Senate.