Cameroon, an equatorial African State with a surface area of 475 000 km 2, which stretches from the luxuriant forest of the Gulf of Guinea and the confines of Gabon and the Central African Republic to the Sahelian belts of the Lake Chad basin, is an extremely diversified country - Africa in miniature.
Like her climate, her population equally reflects this diversity. Her fifteen million inhabitants (in 2000) are distributed into two hundred ethnic groups and clans with different tongues, dialects and religions.
In 1916, Cameroon , which for thirty years had been under German rule, was divided into two parts by the League of Nations . The bigger part, nine tenth of the territory, was entrusted to France and the remainder, located on the west, was given to Great Britain .
In 1960, Cameroon gained independence and subsequently became a federal republic in 1961. Cooperation ties between Cameroon and France continued under the firm leadership of President Ahmadou Ahidjo, a Muslim “Northerner”, who, in 1972, merged the two federal states into a united republic.
Cameroon and her paradoxes
Cameroon is a country of paradoxes. Though corruption and banditry have unfortunately increased under the regime of President Paul Biya, a Christian from the south, known to be less authoritative as compared to his Muslim predecessor from the north, there is no religious or ethnic conflicts amongst Cameroonians. Christians are in the majority, while Muslims, mostly from the northern part of Cameroon , constitute 20% of the population. The Bamileke of the West province of Cameroon , an industrious business-oriented people who populate the major cities, play a very active role in the economy but are less conspicuous on the political scene. The bulk of the population is made of over two hundred ethnic groups and clans like the Bamilekes, Foulbes, Bamouns, Fangs, Doualas, and Pygmies, none of which can boast of being in power. It is for this reason that such extensive diversity instead tends to be a factor for consolidating social peace and, of course, a guarantee for national stability and integration.
Thanks to her rich human and natural resources, given the high percentage of school-attending population, a considerable level of political maturity blended with mischievousness which is often perceptible in the attitudes of people, Cameroon thus stands out as a politically and economically solid country in an environment where instability is on the increase.
France's role in the area of defence
The French army was called to intervene on Cameroonian territory during unrests and clashes which occurred before and after the independence of January 1960. These interventions were:
From December 17, 1956, to December 31, 1958, in the Wouri, Mungo, N’Kam, Bamileke and Kribi regions.
From January 01, 1959, to March 28, 1963, in the N’Ten, Sanaga Maritime, Nyong et Kellé, Nyong et Sanaga, and Djà et Lobo regions.
In 1974, a military cooperation agreement was signed, aimed at ensuring stability in the country, strengthening the Cameroonian army and maintaining peace in the region. French soldiers, put under the defence attaché, are diligently executing the mission assigned to them, in partnership with Cameroonian armed forces.
Participate in the construction and the development of a State of law.
Defend the national territory, persons and property.
Develop their international operations capabilities for peace keeping missions.
Thus within the framework of France Cameroon cooperation, France has put technicians of the infantry, navy, air force and gendarmerie at the disposal of Cameroon . They are stationed in the major cities - Yaounde , Douala and Garoua. France participates in surveillance missions along Cameroonian borders, offers internships, supplies equipment and carries out some maintenance operations on military equipment.
They are many Cameroonians who consider France as their second fatherland.