/ kæməruːn /
Prevedi Cameroon na: francuski · nemački
1. A republic in west-central Africa; was under French and British control until 1960; Also called: Cameroun.
2. An inactive volcano in western Cameroon; highest peak on the West African coast.
Country in W Africa, bounded NW by Nigeria, NE by Chad, E by the Central African Republic, S by Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea, and W by the Atlantic.
Cameroon was a federal state until 1972 when a new constitution, revised 1975 and 1991, made it unitary. The constitution provides for a president and a single-chamber national assembly of 180, each elected for a five-year term. The president has the power to choose the cabinet, to lengthen or shorten the life of the assembly, and may stand for reelection.
The area was first visited by Europeans 1472, when the Portuguese began slave trading in the area. In 1884 Cameroon became a German protectorate. After World War I, France governed about 80% of the area under a League of Nations mandate, with Britain administering the remainder. In 1946 both areas became United Nations trust territories.
In 1957 French Cameroon became a state within the French Community and three years later achieved full independence as the Republic of Cameroon. After a plebiscite 1961, the northern part of British Cameroons merged with Nigeria, and the southern part joined the Republic of Cameroon to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The French zone became East Cameroon and the British part West Cameroon.
Ahmadou Ahidjo, who had been the first president of the republic 1960, became president of the federal republic and was reelected 1965. In 1966 Cameroon was made a one-party state when the two government parties and most of the opposition parties merged into the Cameroon National Union (UNC). Extreme left-wing opposition to the UNC was crushed 1971. In 1972 the federal system was abolished and the country was renamed the United Republic of the Cameroon. Shortly afterwards it again became the Republic of Cameroon. A new national assembly was elected 1973.
In 1982 Ahidjo resigned, nominating Paul Biya as his successor. In 1983 Biya began to remove Ahidjo's supporters, and in protest Ahidjo resigned the presidency of the UNC. Biya was reelected 1984, while Ahidjo went into exile in France. Biya strengthened his position by abolishing the post of prime minister and reshuffling his cabinet. He also changed the nation's name from the United Republic of Cameroon to the Republic of Cameroon. Many of Ahidjo's supporters were executed after a failed attempt to overthrow Biya. In 1985 the UNC changed its name to the Democratic Assembly of the Cameroon People (RDPC), and Biya tightened his control by more cabinet changes. Biya was reelected president 1988 with 98.75% of the vote.
In 1986 a volcanic vent under Lake Nyos released a vast quantity of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, which suffocated large numbers of people and animals.
In 1990 widespread public disorder resulted from the arrests of lawyers, lecturers, and students. However, Biya granted amnesty to political prisoners. In response to further public unrest, a number of constitutional changes were introduced Dec 1991, including the lowering of the voting age to 20. Opposition groups complained that most of the changes were designed to help Biya win support in the forthcoming assembly elections. The first multiparty assembly elections in 28 years were held 1992, and the RDPC secured a small majority. Biya also won the 1992 presidential election, but his victory was challenged by the opposition after widespread arrests of their supporters, and from 1993 opposition leaders demanded radical constitutional reforms.