Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon, is a country in the west Central Africa region. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Compared with other African countries, Cameroon enjoys relatively high political and social stability. This has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, railways, and large petroleum and timber industries. It is still a country with many challenges, including a large number population that live in poverty.
International study in the historic and unique nation, Cameroon, gives students a rare glimpse of the rare, real, authentic Africa. Compared to more heavily traveled locales on the continent, the small nation is largely unspoiled by outside influence. Tucked away in the hub of Africa’s western coast, the Republic of Cameroon shares a border with six other nations; the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad and Nigeria. The cities of Garoua, Douala and Yaounde are the nation’s biggest metro areas, and its highest elevation lies on the top of Mount Cameroon in the country’s southwest corridor. Cameroon’s coastline abuts the Atlantic Ocean’s Gulf of Guinea at a section known as the Bight of Bonny.
Given its high elevations, low-lying deserts, rainforests and sunny beaches, international travelers have dubbed Cameroon “Africa in miniature.” Though French and English are the nation’s official languages, Cameroon is home to approximately 200 dialects and regional linguistic speaking styles. Practically everyone who travels to this unique country comes away with a love for its mysterious musical traditions, especially the melodic, rhythmic beats of bikutsi and makossa, the area’s native musical genres.
The nation’s varied climate spans a humid, 25 degrees Centigrade in the south to a dry, warmer 32 degrees Centigrade in the north. Cameroon’s dry season runs from October to April in the north, though the western part of the area enjoys persistent rain showers. Due to the extreme variance in climate, one can see a diverse range of plants and animals. In the rain forests, oil palms, bamboo, mahogany, teak, rubber and ebony dominate. On an extensive trek around Cameroon, expect to see gorillas, lions, elephants and monkeys.
As in many other African nations, hundreds of ethnic groups make up Cameroon’s eclectic population, with about half of all inhabitants dwelling in rural areas and the other half in the nation’s cities. Keep in mind that French and English are listed as official languages, but numerous regional dialects abound. However, of the two official tongues, French is by far the more widely spoken. Cameroon’s religious traditions are as variegated as its linguistic patchwork. Approximately one-fifth of the people follow the Islamic faith, while a quarter are members of local, traditional religious organizations. The other 55 percent of citizens consider themselves Christian.
Most international travelers judge Cameroon’s price levels for basic necessities to be average. For most cost categories like rent and foodstuffs, the nations of Chile and Venezuela are comparable, while China's and Mexico’s cost of living would be considered lower. Looking at Cameroon’s regional economic standing, price levels are among the lowest in the area. Based upon objective international comparisons, Cameroon’s price index is right in the middle of the widely used 1-through-780 index, standing at 364.
Study in Cameroon
Universities are officially controlled by the national government, with the half-dozen or so certified colleges teaching in French, and only sometimes in English. Recently, several English language universities have opened, and they enjoy a solid international reputation. Most local graduates join national public service upon completion, and the Cameroonian university system is considered to have a stable calendar and successful series of programs.
Studying in Cameroon provides a student with a unique perspective of the African experience. The country’s melding of the French and English educational styles has attracted academics from all over the continent, and has caused an influx of non-African students as well. Among the standout educational establishments are Fotso Victor University, International University Bamenda, and the Bamenda University of Science and Technology. Though there is some variation in specific academic calendars, most international universities in Cameroon begin in mid- to late October and conclude their academic year in mid-July.
Tuition and fees for studying at any of the nation’s national or international universities vary widely, with students at national schools paying a much lower rate. However, for the huge majority of non-African students attending an international school, fees and tuition are approximately $500 to $1,500 U.S. dollars per semester.
While science and technology programs are currently at the forefront of international education in Cameroon, the several major institutions offer a well-rounded academic variety of coursework. Non-African graduates typically return to their home countries, having gained a unique educational experience that is comparable to most other nations’ higher educational degrees. In Europe and the U.S., for example, an academic degree that includes a semester or more in Africa stands out. College graduates who have spent time in one of Cameroon’s universities are better prepared to face international academic and business challenges.
Individual, international health insurance plans are recommended for students and other travelers in Cameroon, as the local medical infrastructure is often a pay-for-use arrangement. Although medical facilities are somewhat limited, pharmacies in metro areas are well maintained and offer reasonable prices. Those taking prescription medicines on a regular basis should make plans to have long-term supplies on hand or available by mail.
Compared to many other nations, it is relatively easy to obtain a student visa for Cameroon, provided one has an official letter of acceptance from one of the nation’s institutions of higher learning. Depending upon one’s country of origin, certain immunizations may be required for travel into Cameroon. Check with your local authorities well ahead of traveling to see about specific requirements. In most cases, those who are accepted to Cameroon schools merely need to complete a student visa application and wait approximately four weeks for approval.
Students and other international travelers in Cameroon should keep in mind that the country operates primarily on a cash economic system, especially for day-to-day transactions. Credit cards and travelers’ checks are not widely accepted. For those who plan on long-term residency, it is recommended to open an account in one of the area's major banks. In that case, the bank will typically be able to issue travelers’ checks that can be used in most parts of the local economy. There are, however, several money transfer agencies, especially in the metropolitan areas of Cameroon.