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500 BC:

The explorer Hanno of Carthage in North Africa (Tunisia) was the first foreigner reported to have seen Mount Cameroon. In the following Centuries, trade in slaves and goods developed in the Northern part of Cameroon through the Sahara in North Africa.

200-100 BC:

The first Bantu-tribes emigrated to the North of Cameroon from Nigeria. Traditionally, these tribes were made up of farmers and they needed a lot of space for their agriculture. The original inhabitants, the so-called “Pygmies”, were gradually forced deeper into the forests by the new comers. Later, Sao Culture developed in the South of Lake Chad and more than 150 different ethnic groups lived in Cameroon (Today there are about 250 different ethnic groups).

The Europeans arrive


Portuguese explorers led by Fernando Pô were the first Europeans to arrive the coast of Cameroon. They reached Douala through the Wouri River. They named it “Rio dos Camarões (the River of Prawns), which later resulted to the name of the country. With the arrival of Europeans, business and slave trade shifted from the Centre to the Coastal areas. Local Chiefs developed more powers by signing agreements with the Portuguese. Business was also negotiated with traders from England, Holland, France and Germany. The Chiefs served as middlemen between the Europeans and local tribesmen that had something to sell. Mostly slaves and ivory were exported from Cameroon. The Europeans sold clothes and metal-products.


A few Portuguese settlers started plantations and Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Cattle farmers migrated from Nigeria and forced the indigenous people further into the forest. The constant fight to manage the land led to the problem of refugees and made them vulnerable at the benefit of slave traders.


The Dutch takes over the slave trade in Cameroon.


British missionaries started protesting against slave trade. The London Baptist Missionaries created a Christian colony in Victoria (now called Limbe). The first inhabitants of Limbe were freed slaves from Jamaica, Ghana and Liberia. Also, Africans who were converted to Christianity, settled in Victoria.

Alfred Saker and the end of slave trade


Trade between Cameroon and Europe gradually changed and developed. The first European business complex was founded by Alfred Saker, an English navy engineer. He started building schools and churches in Douala at the bank of River Wouri. When slave trade finally ended, some changes were noticed at the level of trade, because focus was now on natural resources like palm oil, ivory and gold. The Europeans started moving further into the interior of the country. The Douala chiefs started losing their influence little by little. After being informed about the opening of a British Representation in Lagos, King Manga Bell of Douala wrote to Queen Victoria of England, requesting that an official relationship be established with Douala.

The British were present in Nigeria, East Africa and other places in the world. The British were reluctant in making Cameroon a British protectorate. As a result of their hesitation, the Germans were forced to take over the territory.


Slavery was abolished in America. The Europe nations had done this several years earlier, although illegal slave trade continued for many years.

Kamerun – German colony

July 12, 1884

Gustav Nachtigal signed a treaty with the Chiefs of Doula on behalf of the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm. In return for trade advantages the chiefs accepted a German protectorate. The names of the chiefs were Bell, Akwa and Deïdo


Baron Von Soden became Governor of the new German colony, “Kamerun”. His biggest task was to fight rebellious tribes in the country.


The European colonial powers partitioned Africa amongst themselves during the Berlin Conference. The Europeans drew up new boundaries for the entire African continent. In doing that, they did not take into considering differences in cultures and languages of the people.


Explorer Georg Zenker instituted a German rule in the mountains at the Centre of Cameroon which later gave birth to Yaounde the capital.


The second German Governor, Von Puttkamer, constructed a railway in the country. With forced labour, he also started developing the colony with roads, schools and hospitals. The name of the main town changed from Kamerunstadt to Douala. The Germans encountered serious difficulties in imposing their authority on the colony. Initially, the Germans left a greater part of the local administration in the hands of large commercial companies.


Chief Rudolph Douala Manga Bell and military officer Martin-Paul Samba, were the first two nationalists to be executed for resisting German rule.

British and French Cameroon


When World War I broke out in 1914 aligning France and Britain against Germany, the two German colonies in the Gulf of Guinea were at stake. Both Togoland and Cameroon were sandwiched between British and French colonies during the early weeks of the war and military activities started at their borders. By early 1916 the British and French had taken control over both German colonies. The two allies divided Togo and Cameroon between themselves, and were administering the regions adjacent to their other colonies. In the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, Germany renounced sovereignty over all her African colonies. The issue of who shall administer the territories was referred to the League of Nations. The mandate granted by the League of Nations in 1922 confirmed the division earlier established in Cameroon between Britain and France. The British were to administer the smaller share, consisting of two tiny strips on the Eastern border of Nigeria. They were separated by a stretch of land that was south of the Benoue River, at the Eastern border of Nigerian. These two regions were known as the British Cameroons.

On the French side, the large Eastern region ceded in 1911 was returned to French Equatorial Africa. The remaining Central portion became a new French mandated territory. The French Cameroun had a more rapid economic and political development than the British Cameroons. Soon after, it faced the effects of liberation movements that swept through the continent after World War II. From 1956 the French were confronted by a powerful uprising orchestrated by a nationalist party, the UPC (Union des Populations du Cameroun), demanding immediate independence. The uprising was suppressed by the French troops.

When independence was granted in 1960 – after Cameroun voted to remain within the French Community – the ruling party (the Union Camerounaise, founded in 1958 by Ahmadou Ahidjo) was in favour of retaining a strong link with France. While the French mandated territory got independence with the name,”Republique du Cameroun”, the future of British Cameroons was still to be decided. The question was either to merge it with Nigeria (that just got independence) or with the already independent Republique du Cameroun. A plebiscite was organised to that effect in 1961. The Northern region voted to join Nigeria, while Southern region opted to join the la Republicque du cameroun on the basis of a federation. The new name became known as the Federal Republic of Cameroon.

United Republic of Cameroun

May 20, 1972

The federal structure is dissolved and a new constitution is made with the formation of the United Republic of Cameroon.

November, 1982: Ahidjo leaves his post as president. The 49 year old Prime Minister, Paul Biya, takes over presidency.
A presidencial decree of 1984, tranformed the united Republic of Cameroon in Republic of Cameroon.

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