In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Cameroon is Number 111 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The book covers physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. Germany established the protectorate of Kamerun in 1884; the following year the protectorate became a colony. German rule was marked by harsh treatment of the people of the colony, who were forcibly pressed into labor on large cocoa and rubber plantations in southwestern Cameroon. The study describes the German plans as of 1914 to extend the existing network of three railroads and to develop plantation agriculture, but concludes that “Cameroon is to a large extent an unknown and undeveloped country….” The total population of the colony is put at 2,649,000 (1915), with the largest ethnic groups being the Fula (Fulani), Bantu, and Hausa peoples. In World War I, Britain and France occupied the colony with troops from neighboring French Equatorial Africa and British Nigeria. After the war, a League of Nations mandate assigned about 80 percent of the territory of Cameroon to France, and 20 percent to Britain. Cameroon is thus the only African country that, in the course of its history, was ruled by three different European colonial powers: Britain, France, and Germany. On January 1, 1960, French Cameroon became independent. In October 1961, the southern part of British Cameroon joined the new Federal Republic of Cameroon, while the northern section voted for unification with Nigeria.

Last updated: July 23, 2015