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A factfile on Cameroon

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Following is a factfile on Cameroon, which holds legislative and municipal elections on Monday.

- POPULATION: 21.7 million in 2012 (World Bank).

- GEOGRAPHY: 475,442 square kilometres (190,176 square miles), or slightly larger than the western US state of California. Borders with Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Nigeria.

- CAPITAL: Yaounde. Economic capital: Douala.

- RELIGIONS: Christian (50 percent), Muslim (between 42 and 45 percent), animist.

- LANGUAGES: French (80 percent) and English (20 percent) are the official languages. .

- HISTORY: At the end of World War I the German protectorate of Kamerun was divided between French and British mandated regions. In 1960, Cameroon achieved independence following the end of the French mandate. A portion of the British mandate later joined independent Cameroon, with the remaining areas choosing to unite with Nigeria.

Independence was followed by 20 years of repressive government under President Ahmadou Ahidjou, during which the political structure evolved from a one-party to multiparty system. Ahidjou was succeeded in 1982 by his prime minister, Paul Biya, who allowed multiparty presidential elections in 1992, which he won.

- POLITICS:

Biya remains in power today having won elections in 1992, the results of which were contested by the opposition, then in 1997 and 2004.

In February 2008 riots rocked the country in protest against the high cost of living and a controversial change to the constitution. Some 40 people were killed in the unrest, according to official figures and at least 130 according to rights groups. In April the national assembly adopted the constitutional reform allowing Biya to seek a new term.

In October 2011 Biya was re-elected after beating long-time opponent John Fru Ndi. The United States and France pointed to "irregularities" in the voting process.

The Democratic Rally of the Cameroonian People (RDCP) is Biya's party, and holds the majority of seats in the national assembly and municipal bodies. The anglophone Social Democratic Front (SDF) of Ndi, is the main opposition party.

In January, Amnesty International alleged a string of extrajudicial killings and accused Biya's regime of muzzling opponents and journalists.

- ECONOMY: Oil resources and good agricultural conditions make Cameroon one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in sub-Saharan Africa and more than 70 percent of the population works in the agricultural sector, with bananas, cocoa, coffee and cotton among the main earners.

It has deposits of gold, diamonds, iron, tin, uranium, manganese, cobalt, nickel and bauxite,

Since 2004 a oil pipeline off Cameroon's coast at Kribi has permitted to transport oil from Doba in the south of landlocked Chad.

- CURRENCY: CFA franc

- GDP growth: five percent (2012, World Bank)

- INCOME per capita: $1,170 dollars (2012, World Bank)

- EXTERNAL DEBT: $2.96 billion (2010, World Bank)

- ARMED FORCES: 14,200 troops (the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2013).

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130929/factfile-cameroon