Demographics of Cameroon

Demographics of Cameroon
Linguistic survey of Nigeria, Cameroon, and Benin
A Tikar family in the Northwest Province

This article is about the demographic features of the population of Cameroon, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

The demographic profile of Cameroon is complex for a country of its population. Cameroon comprises an estimated 250 distinct ethnic groups, which may be formed into five large regional-cultural divisions:

  • western highlanders (Semi-Bantu or grassfielders), including the Bamileke, Bamum (or Bamoun), and many smaller Tikar groups in the Northwest (est. 38% of total population);
  • coastal tropical forest peoples, including the Bassa, Duala (or Douala), and many smaller groups in the Southwest (12%);
  • southern tropical forest peoples, including the Beti-Pahuin, Bulu (a subgroup of Beti-Pahuin), Fang (subgroup of Beti-Pahuin), Maka, Njem, and Baka pygmies (18%);
  • predominantly Islamic peoples of the northern semi-arid regions (the Sahel) and central highlands, including the Fulani (French: Peul or Peuhl; Fula: Fulɓe) (14%); and
  • the "Kirdi", non-Islamic or recently Islamic peoples of the northern desert and central highlands (18%).

An up-to-date demographic profile is unavailable from the country's government, which hasn't published census data since 1976.

The Cameroon government held two national censuses during the country's first 44 years as an independent country, in 1976 and again in 1987. Results from the second head count were never published. A third census, expected to take years to product results, began on November 11, 2005, with a three-week interviewing phase. It is one of a series of projects and reforms required by the International Monetary Fund as prerequisites for foreign debt relief.


CIA World Factbook demographic statistics

Estimated number of inhabitants (in thousands), based on 2005 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization.
Speakers of Makaa–Njem languages in Cameroon and neighbouring countries.
The ethnic groups of Cameroon who speak Duala languages.

The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.


19,294,149 (2010 est.)
Note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2009 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 40.9% (male 3,891,762/female 3,822,870)
15-64 years: 55.9% (male 5,298,143/female 5,250,493)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 283,289/female 332,744) (2010 est.)

Median age

total: 19.3 years
male: 19.2 years
female: 19.4 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate

2.157% (2010 est.)

Birth rate

33.58 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)

Death rate

12.01 deaths/1,000 population (2010 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)


Urban population: 57% of total population (2008)
Rate of urbanization: 3.5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio

At birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female
Total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 62.15 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 66.8 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 57.36 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 54.04 years
male: 53.21 years
female: 54.9 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate

4.25 children born/woman (2010 est.)


Adult prevalence rate: 5.1% (2007 est.)
People living with HIV/AIDS: 540,000 (2007 est.)
Deaths: 39,000 (2007 est.)

Major infectious diseases

Degree of risk: very high
Food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and hepatitis E, and typhoid fever
Vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
Water contact disease: schistosomiasis
Respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
Animal contact disease: rabies (2009)


Noun: Cameroonian(s)
Adjective: Cameroonian

Ethnic groups

  • Cameroon Highlanders 31%
  • Equatorial Bantu 19%
  • Kirdi 11%
  • Fulani 10%
  • Northwestern Bantu 8%
  • Eastern Nigritic 7%
  • other African 13%
  • non-African less than 1%


Indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim 20%


There are 24 major African language groups in Cameroon; additionally, English and French are official languages. Cameroonian Pidgin English is also widely spoken.

Peoples concentrated in the Southwest and Northwest Provinces — around Buea and Bamenda — use standard English and Cameroonian Pidgin English, as well as their local languages. In the three northern provinces — Adamawa, North, and Far North — either French or Fulfulde (the language of the Fulani) is widely spoken. Elsewhere, French is the principal second language, although pidgin and some local languages such as Ewondo, the dialect of a Beti clan from the Yaoundé area, have a wide currency.

Indigenous languages of Cameroon include:


Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 67.9% (2004 est.; source: UNDP 2006; NB- this figure is given without reference to which languages are considered)
Male: 77.0%
Female: 59.8%

Education expenditure

3.3% of GDP (2006)


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