475,442 sq km (183,569 sq miles).
23.1 million (2014).
48.7 per sq km.
Head of state:
President Paul Biya since 1982.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Philemon Yang since 2009.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs with two round pins are standard.
While referring to Cameroon as “Africa in miniature” has become a bit of a cliché, this statement certainly rings true: everything you would expect from the African continent seems to be consolidated here, in this enticing and eclectic land.
The beautiful south is characterised by tropical rainforests and deserted golden beaches, which would be chock full of bathers in a more developed destination. There’s a hearty appetite for independence in the English-speaking south, but, despite the best efforts of local pressure groups, it has yet to break free from the rest of the country.
In contrast to the south, the dramatic landscapes of northern Cameroon are dominated by great expanses of desert, lakes and savannah. Traditional villages still cling on in this unforgiving land, which is perhaps the most culturally diverse region in Cameroon, home as it is to some 50 ethnic groups. Though largely peaceful, the region has been rocked by attacks from extremists in recent years. Keep abreast of the latest news.
Pack your hiking gear if you’re heading to western Cameroon, which is dominated by volcanic mountains. Looking out across these rugged ranges you could be forgiven for thinking you were on Mars, such is their otherworldly appearance. It’s not all about the landscapes, though. Scattered across the country are a handful of game reserves, which offer ample opportunity to observe impressive wildlife, including elephants and lions.
Cameroon really should be one of Africa’s leading destinations, but poverty blights much of its infrastructure, meaning transport and accommodation are chronically underdeveloped. Outstanding border disputes haven’t helped, either – travellers are advised to steer clear of the frontiers with Nigeria, Chad and the Central African Republic, which are considered unstable.
Aside from certain no-go areas, Cameroon has much to offer adventurous travellers. From its verdant rainforests to its iconic wildlife, the country is bursting with life. Go and you shall be handsomely rewarded.
Last updated: 19 October 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Mugging and armed banditry are a problem throughout Cameroon but particularly in Yaoundé, Douala, Ngouandere and Bafoussam.
Avoid isolated or poorer areas of towns; for example in Yaoundé, La Briquetterie and Mokolo market; and in Douala, Akwa, Bonaberi and Village. Avoid walking around at night, particularly alone.
Be vigilant in public places. Trouble can flare up unexpectedly (eg at football matches). Make sure car doors are locked when driving around. Avoid wearing jewellery and only carry small amounts of cash and valuables.
Close and lock all doors and windows, particularly at night. Make sure burglar proof metal bars are installed. Identify callers through spy holes before opening doors, especially late at night.
Petty theft is common on trains, coaches and bush taxis and around bus stations and hotels. Taxis in cities operate like buses, picking up passengers while there is still room in the car. They often take indirect routes and many don’t meet basic safety requirements. There have been reports of violent assaults and robberies on taxi passengers. Only use trusted taxis and preferably book one from your hotel or restaurant.
Car-jackings, kidnappings and armed robberies have occurred along roads close to the borders with Central African Republic, Chad and Nigeria, and along the Bamenda-Banyo, Bafoussam-Banyo, Bafoussam-Doula and Bafoussam-Yaounde roads.
There have been incidents of kidnapping and hostage taking in the far north, north and east of Cameroon. The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.
Foreign visitors and residents are often targets of scam artists. The scams come in many forms, and can cause significant financial loss. Scammers also target individuals and companies in the UK via websites, chat-rooms and by email. Cases involving the alleged adoption of children have been reported. Be very cautious about sending money or travelling to Cameroon to adopt a child where the information has come from a website or through emails. Cameroon does not have adoption agencies. Many victims are persuaded to pay large amounts of money before they suspect anything.
There is an increased risk of displacement of Nigeria-based extremists into the far north province following the declarations of a state of emergency in Nigeria’s Borno and Adamawa states. An increased presence of Nigerian extremists in far north province had already been observed before the declaration, and there is also a general threat of kidnapping and armed banditry. If you’re in the far north Province, you should leave.
There is also a risk of displacement of Nigeria-based extremists into Cameroon’s north and Adamaoua provinces which border Nigeria’s Adamawa state. The ability of the High Commission to offer consular services in the far north, north and Adamaoua provinces is limited.
The FCO advise against all travel to within 40 km of the border with Chad because of armed banditry, including poachers in Bouba Ndjidda National Park in the north Province.
The FCO advise against all travel to within 40km of the border with the Central African Republic (CAR). There have been incursions by armed men from CAR and there have been fatalities. Armed banditry remains a risk. Numerous kidnappings have occurred in the period March to July 2015.
The FCO advise against all travel to the Bakassi Peninsula. Piracy is a threat in the Gulf of Guinea and particularly in the waters around the Niger Delta and the Bakassi Peninsula. Cameroon’s Rapid Intervention Brigade (BIR) patrol the waters. The ferry that operates between Limbe/Tiko in Cameroon and Calabar in Nigeria passes through areas where pirates operate. The Bakassi Peninsula is made up of mangrove forests and isolated islands that are difficult to police. Mariners should seek professional security advice and take appropriate precautions. The Korup National Park falls outside the area to which the FCO advise against all travel.
Take great care if you travel to the northern provinces of Cameroon by road. The eastern route via Garoua-Boulai and Meiganga involves driving close to the border with CAR. The western route requires travel along the Bamenda-Banyo axis. The central route via Yoko requires travel on very poorly maintained roads through largely uninhabited areas, crossing a number of bridges in a poor state of repair. There is no fuel available on the route. If you must attempt this drive, carry plenty of water, sufficient fuel to enable you to turn back if necessary, a spare tyre and a satellite phone or VHF radio to summon assistance if required.
Lake Nyos in the North West Province emitted carbon dioxide suffocating about 1,700 people in 1986. There were no warning signs that this would happen and it could happen again at any time. There is also a concern that the wall of the dam holding back Lake Nyos is not sufficiently strong. Nearby Lake Mounoun is also saturated with CO2.
Avoid all travel by road at night in rural areas, particularly on the Yaoundé-Douala trunk road, where accidents are common. Plan your journey carefully and travel in convoy, where possible. As mobile phone coverage is limited you should consider taking a VHF radio or satellite phone.
You can drive using a UK driving licence or International Driving Permit on first arrival, but you should obtain a Cameroonian licence from the Delegation of Transport as soon as possible.
Make sure any car you hire is adequately insured, preferably by written confirmation from the insurance company (rather than the car hire firm). If you are hiring a driver and car, make sure you are not liable for any accident or damage.
Apart from the major routes, roads in Cameroon are generally in poor condition. Many are badly pot-holed. Street lighting, where it exists, is poor. Pedestrians and stray animals on roads are a hazard. Many vehicles are poorly lit and badly driven.
Roadblocks set up by the police or gendarmerie, are common throughout Cameroon. You may be asked to show your passport, driving licence or vehicle registration documents. There are regular reports of uniformed members of the security forces stopping motorists on the pretext of minor or non-existent violations of local vehicle regulations in order to extort small bribes. Don’t pay bribes; ask the officer to provide a ticket, setting out the alleged offence so that you can pay at a local court.
There is only one local airline operating between a few of the major cities, Camairco. Scheduled flights are subject to frequent delays and cancellations. Several international airlines fly into Cameroon.
Rail travel is possible between Douala and Yaoundé and Ngaoundere. Trains are of a reasonable quality and are fairly reliable.
There are occasional isolated incidents of political unrest around the country. Be vigilant at all times, and avoid political demonstrations and rallies.