Browse the information below for demographic information on Cameroon, including population,
religion, nationality and more. If you do not find the Cameroon information you need on the
people page, check out our complete listing on the Cameroon Country Page.
Nationality: English noun and adjective--Cameroonian(s); French noun and adjective--Camerounais(e).
Population (2003 est.): 16.5 million (52% in rural areas).
Annual growth rate: 2.9%.
Ethnic groups: About 250.
Religions: Christian 53%, Muslim 22%, indigenous African 25%.
Languages: French and English (both official) and about 270 African languages and dialects, including Pidgin, Fulfulde, and Ewondo.
Education: Compulsory between ages 6 and 14. Attendance--65%. Literacy--75%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (1999) --9.5%. Life expectancy (1999)--50 yrs.
Work force: Agriculture--70%. Industry and commerce--13%.
Cameroon's estimated 250 ethnic groups form five large regional -- cultural groups: western highlanders (or grassfielders), including the Bamileke, Bamoun, and many smaller entities in the northwest (est. 38% of population); coastal tropical forest peoples, including the Bassa, Douala, and many smaller entities in the Southwest (12%); southern tropical forest peoples, including the Ewondo, Bulu, and Fang (all Beti subgroups), Maka and Pygmies (officially called Bakas) (18%); predominantly Islamic peoples of the northern semi-arid regions (the Sahel) and central highlands, including the Fulani, also known as Peuhl in French (14%); and the "Kirdi", non-Islamic or recently Islamic peoples of the northern desert and central highlands (18%).
The people concentrated in the southwest and northwest provinces -- around Buea and Bamenda -- use standard English and "pidgin," as well as their local languages. In the three northern provinces --Adamaoua, North, and Far North -- French and Fulfulde, the language of the Fulani, are widely spoken. Elsewhere, French is the principal language, although pidgin and some local languages such as Ewondo, the dialect of a Beti clan from the Yaounde area, also are widely spoken. Although Yaounde is Cameroon's capital, Douala is the largest city, main seaport, and main industrial and commercial center.
The western highlands are the most fertile in Cameroon and have a relatively healthy environment in higher altitudes. This region is densely populated and has intensive agriculture, commerce, cohesive communities, and historical emigration pressures. From here, Bantu migrations into eastern, southern, and central Africa are believed to have originated about 2,000 years ago. Bamileke people from this area have in recent years migrated to towns elsewhere in Cameroon, such as the coastal provinces, where they form much of the business community. About 20,000 non-Africans, including more than 6,000 French and 2,400 U. S. citizens, reside in Cameroon.