General issues: German protectorate 1897-1919, French mandated territory 1921-1946, French trust territory 1946-1957, French trust territory, self government 1957-1960, Republic 1960-1961, Federal republic 1961-1972, United Republic 1972-1984, Republic 1984-Present
Country name on general issues: Kamerun, Cameroun
Special issues: Local issues Kamerun 1897, Longi 1911, British occupation 1915, French occupation 1915-1917, British Cameroons 1960-1961
Currency: 1 Mark = 100 Pfennig 1897-1919, 1 Franc = 100 Centimes 1921-1960, 1 (CFA) Franc = 100 Centimes 1960-Present
Population: 2 716 000 in 1900, 22 250 000 in 2013
Political history Cameroon
Cameroon is located in central Africa. The population of Cameroon is diverse – existing of over 200 population groups. In the north the majority are Nilo-Saharan peoples, in the center Niger-Congo peoples and in the south Bantu peoples. The first Europeans to explore the coast of Cameroon were the Portuguese in the late 15th century. European presence was, until the mid 19th century, focused on trade in the coastal regions.
In the mid 19th century, German companies increase their presence in Cameroon – starting from Douala – through trade and the set up of plantations. In 1884 these companies request protection from the German Empire. The ‘Scramble for Africa’ is at its height and Germany proclaims a protectorate over Cameroon – until 1901 officially the protectorate of German North West Africa. The protectorate is awarded to Germany at the 1885 Berlin conference, where the colonial powers divide their respective spheres of influence in Africa. The Germans gradually bring Cameroon under effective colonial rule – a prerequisite of the Berlin conference for the continued recognition of territorial claims. The last parts in the north of Cameroon are brought under German control in 1902.
The borders are established through a series of treaties with the British for Nigeria and the French for French Equatorial Africa – the current Chad, Congo Brazzaville and Gabon. A major extension of the German territory is agreed upon with the French in the Treaty of Fez in 1911. The Treaty of Fez is one of the treaties leading to the establishment of the French protectorate over Morocco in 1912. Through the treaty, the Germans cede a small part of Cameroon to the French and gain a much larger part known as New Cameroon. The Germans invest in Cameroon in the set up of plantations and infrastructure. Investments that are focused on the coastal and south-central regions of Cameroon. The capital is, in 1901, relocated from Douala to Buea.
WWI and aftermath
After the outbreak of WWI, Entente forces – mainly British and French but also Belgian – invade German Cameroon in 1914. The larger part of Cameroon is occupied in 1914 and 1915 – the last German forces to surrender in 1916. The British and the French agree on a de facto partition of Cameroon. In 1919, as a consequence of the treaty of Versailles, Germany formally cedes Cameroon. Cameroon now de jure comes under British and French administration as a mandated territory – New Cameroon reverts to French Equatorial Africa. The extent of the mandate is defined by the League of Nations in 1922. The mandate will be extended in 1946 – Cameroon becoming a United Nations trust territory.
The British Cameroons
The British Cameroons – from 1946 called the Southern Cameroons and the Northern Cameroons – will be administered as part of what is then the British colony & protectorate of Nigeria. As Nigeria gains independence on 1 October 1960, the Southern and Northern Cameroons are put under a separate trust administration in the advent of a referendum that will be organized in 1961 to decide on the future of the Southern and the Northern Cameroons. The Northern Cameroons vote for association with Nigeria and thus, on 1 June 1961, become a de jure part of what is by then the independent federation of Nigeria. The Southern Cameroons vote for association with Cameroon and are joined on 1 October 1961 with Cameroon.
The French administer French Cameroon as a separate entity that is not integrated in the administrative structure of French Equatorial Africa that comprises the neighboring French possessions. That being said, the administration follows the standard practices of French colonial administration. The style of administration is by indirect rule through existing royalty. The French set out to transform Cameroon from a German influenced country into a country that is a full part of the French Empire – for example, introducing French as the language that is taught at schools and introducing the French legislative system. Furthermore, the French invest in economic development. Coffee and cotton are developed as cash crops, timber production is developed. The capital is, in 1922, relocated to Yaoundé. In WWII the French administration is initially loyal to the Vichy regime in France but joins the Free French led by Charles de Gaulle in August 1940, thus being one of the first French possessions to do so.
From 1946, Cameroon will – as do the other French possessions – go through a number of administrative changes ultimately leading to independence. In Cameroon, certain factions oppose the route taken by the French and from 1956 a guerrilla war ensues in parts of the country. In 1957 Cameroon gains self government as the State of Cameroon and in 1960 independence as the republic of Cameroon. When the Southern Cameroons are joined to Cameroon on 1 October 1961, they retain a substantial amount of self government – Cameroon becomes the federal republic of Cameroon.
Ahmadou Ahidjo is chosen as the first president of independent Cameroon and sets out to gain full control over the administration of the country. In 1966 his party becomes the sole party in Cameroon. He ends the armed opposition against his regime – a continuation of the pre independence guerrilla activities – by 1970. In 1972 he centralizes the administration, ending the federal structure of Cameroon by turning Cameroon into a unitary republic – formally the United Republic of Cameroon from 1972 and the Republic of Cameroon from 1984. Ahmadou Ahidjo is, in 1982, succeeded by Paul Biya. Paul Biya is currently the president of Cameroon and, although multi party elections have returned in the 1990’s, the power in Cameroon would seem to rest firmly in the his hands. The return to the multi party system has led, though, to secessionist voices becoming louder in the former Southern Cameroons. Cameroon, in 1995, joined the British Commonwealth. Cameroon is one of the three members of the Commonwealth that has not been a full British possession.The other countries are Mozambique and Rwanda.
Cameroon has a mixed economy – agriculture employs most of the population, services account for the largest part of the GDP. Oil production accounts for 40% of Cameroons exports.
Postal history Cameroon
The first postal service in Cameroon was established by the Germans in 1882 – from 1887 stamps from Germany are used. The first stamps issued specifically for Cameroon appear in 1897 – German stamps overprinted ‘Kamerun’. A first set of definitives is issued in 1900. This set, and a subsequent set issued from 1905, are of the ‘Hohenzollern Yacht’ type common for the German possessions. The postal system in Cameroon developed from 6 post offices in 1897 to 52 post offices in 1914. Most German post offices were closed in 1914 – the last to close in 1916. Stamps are issued until 1919 – stamps issued after 1914 only being sold to collectors in Berlin.
Cameroon is known – although maybe mainly among German collectors – for a number of bisects that have been issued during the German period of administration. Bisects issued in Kamerun – the current Duala – in 1898 and in Longji in 1911 are listed in the Michel catalog – although not recognized by the postal administration, they are known to have been used. Other bisects exist that are considered speculative issues on behalf of collectors.
As Cameroon is occupied during WWI, both the British and the French issue stamps for use in the occupied territories. The British, in 1915, use available stocks of German stamps that are overprinted ‘C.E.F.’ for ‘Cameroon Expeditionary Force’ and a new face value in the British currency. The French, in 1915, issue stamps from Gabon overprinted ‘Corps Expéditionaire Anglo-Français Cameroun’. This first set was used only used by the French forces. Further sets are issued in 1915 and 1916-1917 – now stamps of Middle Congo – the current Congo Brazzaville – overprinted ‘Occupation Française du Cameroun’.
The British Cameroons
As the British Cameroons are integrated with Nigeria, Nigerian stamps are used from around 1920. Special issues have appeared in 1960 for use in the British Cameroons issued by the British trust administration – stamps of Nigeria overprinted ‘Cameroons U.K.T.T.’ for ‘Cameroons United Kingdom Trusteeship Territory’. These stamps were issued in the British currency and valid for use in the Northern Cameroons until joined with Nigeria on 1 June 1961 and in the Southern Cameroons until joined with Cameroon on 1 October 1961.
The French, in French Cameroon, issue a first set of stamps for what is then the mandated territory of Cameroon in 1921 – overprints on stamps of Middle Congo, the overprint reading ‘Cameroun’. Stamps inscribed ‘Cameroun’ are issued from 1925. During WWII, in 1941, two sets of stamps are issued by the Vichy regime in France for use in Cameroon. As none of these were actually put on sale in Cameroon, listings exist only for mint items. Sets issued by the Free French in Cameroon, in 1942, have the additional inscription ‘France Libre’. The stamps issued during the French period in Cameroun are in style similar to those issued in other French possession but of unique designs – with the exception of the ‘Grandes Séries’ or omnibus issues. The first issues for the self governing State of Cameroun appear in 1958.
The independent Cameroon has issued stamps from 1960 – the first set commemorating independence. After the establishment of the federal republic, when the Southern Cameroons join Cameroon, stamps of Cameroon are, in 1961, overprinted ‘Republique Federale’ and a face value in the British currency for specific use in the Southern Cameroons. A set inscribed ‘Republique Federale’ and surcharged in the British currency is issued on 1 January 1962. Subsequent issues are in Cameroon CFA Franc currency only. Since independence, Cameroon has had a modest issuing policy with many issues with themes of national interest and a limited number of issues aimed at the topical collectors market.