Traveling Luck for Cameroon

Cameroon is located in Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Biafra, between Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria.

Cameroon has borders with Central African Republic for 797km, Congo (Brazzaville) for 523km, Gabon for 298km, Equatorial Guinea for 189km, Nigeria for 1690km and Chad for 1094km.

Land in Cameroon is diverse, with coastal plain in southwest, dissected plateau in center, mountains in west, plains in north.

Cameroonian land covers an area of 475440 square kilometers which is slightly larger than California

As for the Cameroonian climate; varies with terrain, from tropical along coast to semiarid and hot in north.

Cameroonian(s) speak 24 major African language groups, English (official), French (official).

Cameroonian National Map

Cameroonian Map

Regions of Cameroon

The former French Cameroon and part of British Cameroon merged in 1961 to form the present country. Cameroon has generally enjoyed stability, which has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, and railways, as well as a petroleum industry. Despite a slow movement toward democratic reform, political power remains firmly in the hands of an ethnic oligarchy headed by President Paul BIYA.


Cameroon Country Profile

Because of its oil resources and favorable agricultural conditions, Cameroon has one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Still, it faces many of the serious problems facing other underdeveloped countries, such as a top-heavy civil service and a generally unfavorable climate for business enterprise. Since 1990, the government has embarked on various IMF and World Bank programs designed to spur business investment, increase efficiency in agriculture, improve trade, and recapitalize the nation's banks. In June 2000, the government completed an IMF-sponsored, three-year structural adjustment program; however, the IMF is pressing for more reforms, including increased budget transparency, privatization, and poverty reduction programs. International oil and cocoa prices have considerable impact on the economy.

Cameroonian natural resources include petroleum, bauxite, iron ore, timber, hydropower

sometimes referred to as the hinge of Africa; throughout the country there are areas of thermal springs and indications of current or prior volcanic activity; Mount Cameroon, the highest mountain in Sub-Saharan west Africa, is an active volcano

Cameroonian religion is indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim 20%.

Natural hazards in Cameroon include volcanic activity with periodic releases of poisonous gases from Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun volcanoes.

Travel Advice on Cameroon

Cameroon

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Summary, Crime, Road Safety, Air Safety, General sections.  The overall level of the advice has not changed

SUMMARY

  • We advise against all travel to the area bordering the Central African Republic and Chad, where armed banditry is common.

  • We advise against all travel along the Meiganga-Ngaoundere road and to the Belel area due to cases of banditry (including carjackings).  You should exercise extreme care if travelling on any other route between the north and the south of the country by road, especially if travelling the eastern route through Garoua-Boulai.

  • We advise against all travel to the area bordering Nigeria in the region of the Bakassi Peninsula.

  • Incidents of mugging and banditry, often armed, are a serious problem throughout Cameroon.  You should take sensible personal security precautions and maintain a high level of vigilance in public places.  Do not resist thieves: people who have done so have been killed.

  • The threat from terrorism is low but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • Most visits to Cameroon are trouble-free.  The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Cameroon is for petty crime (robbery and mugging) but be aware that these attacks frequently involve an unnecessary level of violence.

  • You should carry some form of identification at all times (either a residence permit or a certified copy of your passport).  Failure to produce such identification can lead to detention by the police.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime
Incidents of mugging and banditry, often armed, are a serious problem throughout Cameroon.  Muggings and robberies have been reported in the area surrounding the Mount Febe hotel, in Yaoundé.  We advise caution if venturing to this area, even during daylight hours.  You should take sensible personal security precautions and maintain a high level of vigilance in public places.  Do not resist thieves: it is better to lose your property than your life.  On 9 February 2006, a European victim died after resisting an attack.
There are regular reports of kidnapping, car hijackings and robberies, often armed and accompanied by violent acts.  These have occurred most frequently along roads close to Cameroon’s eastern border with Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad, in Douala, Yaoundé, Kribi and Maroua as well as on the Edea-Kribi road.  British nationals have been affected.  Armed highwaymen operate in the three provinces of Adamaoua, the North, and the Far North.  You should plan your journey carefully and travel in convoy.  There have been a number of violent robberies by road blockers in the area north of Mount Cameroon (on the Kumba-Ekondo Titi-Mundemba road).
There have been some serious incidents of car hijacking and robbery, resulting in several deaths, along the Bamenda-Banyo axis in the north west.  A member of the High Commission staff was attacked and robbed (along with others) near Foumban at midday in this region in December 2005.  There has also been a series of attacks along the Douala-Bafoussam Road, especially in the region of Melong, during daylight hours.  These roads are best avoided.
There were more than twenty incidents of robbery and three rapes committed against the European community in Douala in 2005.  Close and lock all doors and windows, including those above ground level, particularly at night.  Do not rely on height or fly screens for protection.  Identify callers through spy holes before opening doors, especially late at night.
You should avoid carrying valuables or wearing jewellery in public and avoid isolated or poorer areas of towns (notably, in Yaoundé, La Briquetterie and Mokolo).  Petty theft is common on trains, coaches and in bush taxis.  You should take sensible precautions when using city taxis as most do not comply with basic security norms, such as seatbelts.  Violent assaults on taxi passengers are not uncommon.  You should avoid travelling alone as far as possible, particularly after dark.
Political situation

Cameroon Country Profile.

You should avoid all political rallies, demonstrations and large public gatherings.
Local Travel
We continue to advise against all travel to the area bordering Nigeria in the region of the Bakassi Peninsula.  Cameroon and Nigeria have now reached an agreement on the future of Bakassi but the area and local feelings remain sensitive.
We advise against all travel to the area bordering the Central African Republic (CAR), where armed banditry and kidnappings for ransom are common.  If you choose to travel to this area, against our advice, you should consult the local authorities for their assessment of the current situation immediately before beginning your journey.  You should be aware that the British High Commission’s ability to assist you in the event of an incident may be constrained by the prevailing situation.
We advise against all travel to the Belel area in Adamaoua Province and along the Meiganga-Ngaoundere road due to cases of banditry (including carjackings).  Economic and political pressures within the Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad have driven refugees and combatants over the border into eastern Cameroon.  Travel in this area, especially the Garoua Boulai – Meiganga – Yarimbang/Yatiua triangle has now become very dangerous.  These problems spilt over into the Belel area (east of Ngaoundre) during the last weekend in February 2006, when armed men, believed to be operating out of CAR, took nine children and youths hostage.  Cameroon has moved additional security personnel to the area but the security situation remains unclear.  Indiscriminate armed robberies, kidnappings and car hijackings are common.
You should exercise extreme care if travelling to the north of Cameroon by road.  The difficulties of the eastern route via Garoua-Balai and Meiganga are explained in the paragraph above.  The western route requires travel along the Bamenda-Banyo axis (please see crime section above).  The central route via Yoko requires travel on very poorly maintained and largely uninhabited roads and requires passage over a number of bridges in a poor state of repair.  There is no fuel on the route.  If you must attempt this, carry plenty of water and sufficient fuel to enable you to turn back if necessary.  A satellite phone to summon assistance if required should be considered essential.
If you intend to visit the Lake Chad area in the Far North Province you should report to the local authorities (the Prefet or Sous-Prefet) on arrival.  The local authorities advise visitors to engage a reliable guide, such as those offered by the larger hotels in Maroua.
The border with the Republic of Congo is closed.  Overland travel out of Cameroon can be difficult.  Gendarmerie detachments are posted along the road between Maroua and the Chadian border.
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.  We recommend that you do not pay bribes.  Where possible you should request the officer to provide a ticket, detailing alleged offences of violations that can be paid at a local court.
You should be cautious when travelling around the Nyos and Monoun volcanic lakes in the west of Cameroon because of toxic fumes.  The lakes effused poisonous gasses in the 1980's killing many people in the surrounding area.  There were no warning signs that this would happen.  The lakes are being degassed but at a slow rate and the lakes could unexpectedly release toxic fumes again at any time.  Moreover there are concerns regarding the stability of the dam wall holding Lake Nyos in place.  Should the wall collapse the area downstream into Nigeria would be subjected to serious flooding and the sudden release of pressure would allow another release of gas.  You should take these risks into account when planning trips to the region.
Road Safety
UK driving licences and International Driving Permits may be used on first arrival, but you should obtain a Cameroonian licence as soon as possible after arrival.  Holders of a UK driving licence can do this by filling in a form at the Delegation of Transport.
Roads in Cameroon are generally in poor condition.  Many are badly pot-holed, and street lighting, where it exists, is poor.  Pedestrians and stray animals on roads are a frequent hazard.  Many vehicles are poorly lit and badly driven.
We recommend you avoid driving at night in rural areas, particularly on the Yaoundé-Douala trunk road, where accidents are common.  Exercise caution when driving at night in urban areas, including Yaoundé and Douala, and lock your doors.
Air Safety
The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the community.  You should check the following link to see whether this will affect your travel:  http://europa.eu.int/comm/transport/air/safety/flywell_en.htm
There are doubts about the reliability and safety of some Cameroonian-registered aircraft operating flights within Cameroon.  British Government employees do not use internal flights in Cameroon unless this is unavoidable.  You should bear this in mind when making your travel plans.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Homosexuality is not widely accepted in central African society and some sexual acts between members of the same sex are illegal.

Penalties for the use and possession of drugs are severe and usually include a prison sentence.

You should carry identification at all times (either a residence permit or a certified copy of your passport).  Failure to produce such identification can lead to detention by the police.

Photography of military sites, government buildings, airports and ports is forbidden.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Visas are required to visit Cameroon and your passport must be valid for six months from the date of entry into the country.  To apply for a visa and to obtain further information on entry requirements, please contact the High Commission for the Republic of Cameroon.

You will be asked to produce a yellow fever vaccination certificate on arrival in the country.  Failure to do so will result in a further vaccination being administered, for which a charge is made.

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the High Commission for the Republic of Cameroon.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance

Medical facilities are poor, particularly in rural areas.  Emergency facilities are extremely limited.  For serious medical treatment, medical evacuation to the UK or South Africa would be necessary.

Malaria is endemic. More than three-quarters of British travellers who contracted malaria in 2005 did not take preventive measures, such as malaria prevention tablets.  However, malaria can occur despite appropriate prevention, and therefore you should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.  Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in Cameroon.

HIV/AIDS is also widespread and transmission may also occur through sub-standard medical facilities.  Water-borne diseases are also prevalent, and you are advised to drink bottled water wherever possible.

Cameroon experiences regular Cholera outbreaks, particularly between the months of December and June.  The areas most usually affected are Douala city, Littoral province and the West and South West provinces.  There have also been cases in the capital, Yaoundé.  Last season’s outbreak infected over 1,400 people and 42 people died.  Be careful of personal hygiene and avoid food and drink from sources that you are unsure of.

You are advised to seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information visit the Department of Health’s website at www.dh.gov.uk.

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

In March 2006, the Pasteur Institute identified the H5NI (Avian Influenza) virus in a domestic duck that came from a small poultry farm near to the northern town of Maroua.  The authorities are taking measures to contain the disease.  No human infections have been reported.

The risk from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low provided you avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds, and ensure that poultry and egg dishes are well cooked.

You should read this advice in conjunction with the FCO’s Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet which gives more detailed information.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see: What We Can Do To Help

You should register with the British High Commission in Yaoundé (contact details below) if you intend to say longer than one month.

The British High Commission in Yaoundé does not issue full passports and, before setting off, you should ensure that your passport has sufficient validity and a plentiful supply of unused pages.  Applications for new passports are accepted in Yaoundé for forwarding to the British High Commission in Nairobi for processing, but this may take up to six weeks.  If a courier is used, the cost must be borne by the applicant.