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Cameroon
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Cameroon, republic in western Africa, bounded on the north by Lake Chad; on the east by Chad and the Central African Republic; on the south by the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea; and on the west by the Bight of Biafra (an arm of the Atlantic Ocean) and Nigeria. The country is shaped like an elongated triangle, and forms a bridge between western Africa and central Africa. The country has a total area of 475,442 sq km (183,569 sq mi). Yaoundé is the capital, and Douala is the largest city. z9t11tp
LAND AND RESOURCES Cameroon has four distinct topographical regions. In the south is a coastal plain, a region of dense equatorial rain forests. In the center is the Adamawa Plateau, a region with elevations reaching about 1370 m (about 4500 ft) above sea level. This is a transitional area where forest gives way in the north to savanna country. In the far north the savanna gradually slopes into the marshland surrounding Lake Chad. In the west is an area of high, forested mountains of volcanic origin. Located here is Cameroon Mountain (4095 m/13,435 ft), the highest peak in western Africa and an active volcano. The country’s most fertile soils are found in this region. Among the principal streams, the Sanaga and Nyong rivers flow generally west to the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mbéré and Logone rivers flow north from the central plateau into Lake Chad. A network of rivers in the Chad Basin, including the Benue River, links the country with the vast Niger River system to the east and north.
Plants and Animals Cameroon’s valuable rain forests contain a number of species of trees, including oil palms, bamboo palms, mahogany, teak, ebony, and rubber. Wildlife is diverse and abundant and includes monkeys, chimpanzees, gorillas, antelope, lions, and elephants, as well as numerous species of birds and snakes.
Natural Resources The economy of Cameroon is dependent primarily on its agricultural and timber resources, although receipts from petroleum reserves constitute a primary source of government revenue. High-yield deposits of bauxite exist in northern Cameroon. A significant reserve of natural gas is found near Douala, but it remains unexploited. A small amount of gold is mined. Hydroelectric potential is significant; the largest power station is at Edéa, on the Sanaga River.




Agriculture The principal commercial crops in Cameroon are cacao, coffee, tobacco, cotton, and bananas. In 1997 production of cacao and coffee, the leading agricultural export commodities, was 120,000 metric tons for the former and 60,000 metric tons for the latter. Other commercial products include rubber, palm products, and sugarcane. Subsistence crops include plantains, sweet potatoes, cassava, corn, and millet.
Livestock raising is important in the Adamawa Plateau region. In 1997 the livestock population included 4.9 million head of cattle, 3.8 million goats, 3.8 million million sheep, and 1.4 million pigs.
Forestry and Fishing Timber is traditionally one of Cameroon’s most valuable exports, consisting mainly of mahogany, ebony, and teak. The timber cut in 1995 amounted to 15.7 million cu m (555 million cu ft). Fishing is dominated by freshwater subsistence activity. However, deep-sea fishing activity is increasing, especially from the port of Douala. Some 80,000 metric tons of fish are caught annually.


Mining and Manufacturing One of the largest single industrial enterprises in Cameroon is the aluminum smelting plant at Edéa, which produces 92,000 metric tons annually from imported bauxite. The processing of agricultural products, however, dominates industrial activity; other manufactures include textiles, fertilizers, and cement. Offshore petroleum exploitation began in the late 1970s, and an oil refinery has been built on the coast at Limboh Point. Cameroon’s output of crude petroleum, mostly for export, was 34 million barrels in 1996. Small amounts of gold and tin concentrates are also produced.





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