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Cameroon

Republic of Cameroon; Republique du Cameroun

Last modified: 2013-11-20 by bruce berry
Keywords: cameroon | cameroun | africa | panafrican colours | star (yellow) | crab | stars: 2 |
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[National Flag and Ensign] 2:3~  Image by Željko Heimer, 13 Oct 2001
Flag adopted 20 May 1975; Coat of Arms adopted in 1984.

See also:

Background and historical overview

Cameroon is is a country in west central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the north-east; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the Bight of Bonny which is part of the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean.

1884 - 1919
The territory became a German colony of Kamerun in 1884.  After World War I the colony was divided between the British (one fifth) and the French, both under the Trusteeship system of the League of Nations.  

1919 - 1961
The League of Nations mandates were converted into United Nations Trusteeships in 1946.

The French created an autonomous state in 1957 which adopted the first Cameroon flag on 29 October 1957 (law 57/46) of vertical green-red-yellow stripes.  Independence was granted on 01 January 1961.

British Cameroon was divided into two: British Northern Cameroon (split in two non contiguous pieces) and British Southern Cameroon, both of which were ruled from Nigeria which became independent  01 October 1960.   British Northern Cameroon was, until then, part of the northern region of Nigeria while British Sothern Cameroon was a separate entity (region).

On 11 February 1961 a plebiscite was held in which each region was asked whether it wished to become part of Nigeria or part of  French Cameroon.  Northern Cameroon voted to join Nigeria and Southern Cameroon voted to unite with French Cameroon to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon on 01 October 1961 (a federal, rather than unitary, form of government consisting of the two states: Western Cameroon (formerly British Southern Cameroon) and East Cameroon (formerly French Cameroon)).

Post - independence (1961 - )
In 1972 the federal system of government was abolished in favour of a unitary state following a national referendum and the country was renamed the United Republic of Cameroon.  Following a Presidential Decree in 1984 the country was renamed the Republic of Cameroon. The country joined the Commonwealth of Nations on 11 November 1995.
Jaume Olle, 17 April 2001


Description of the flag

The flag of Cameroon is a vertical tricolor of green, red, and yellow, with a yellow five pointed star in the centre.  Cameroon is second African state (after Ghana) to adopt the Pan African colours. When British South Cameroon joined the federation, two stars where added. In 1972, the country became a unitary state and three years later two stars were replaced with just one. The flag was officially hoisted on 20 May 1975. Proportions are approx. 2:3. (based on [smi82]).
Željko Heimer 8 December 1995

Red, yellow and green are the Pan African colours and the pattern of the flag recalls the French Tricolore. Green stands for hope and the southern forests, red for unity (and the star as well is the star of unity) and yellow for the sun ('the source of peoples happiness') or prosperity as well as the northern savannas. ([udk97], [smi75c], [ped71]).
Ivan Sache, 13 February 2000

In 'DTV-Lexikon politischer Symbole' (1970), Arnold Rabbow [rab70] writes: 'Green represents the rich vegetation of the southern region; yellow the soil of the extreme North; the red stands for national sovereignty.  In 'Webster's Concise Encyclopedia of Flags, Mucha (1985) [mch85a]: 'Green denotes the rich forest vegetation of the southern part of the country, and the hope for a happy future; red is the symbol of independence and unity; and yellow stands for the savannas in the savannas in the northern part of the country and for the sun as the source of the nation's happiness. The star symbolizes the unity of the country.'
Jarig Bakker, 13 Feb 2000

The colours of the flag of Cameroon are the Pan African colours of green/red/yellow. They are based on the colours of the flag of Ethiopia, a horizontal tricolour of green/yellow/red which dates back to 1897 and influenced the colours of many post-colonial African flags. The colours of the Cameroon flag form a vertical tricolour based on the flag of France which was the colonial power controlling most of its territory before independence.

The basic pattern of the flag of Cameroon dates back to 1957. In 1961 Southern Cameroon, a former British colony or dependency, voted to join Cameroon in a federal type of government. At that time two yellow stars were added to the upper part of the green portion of the flag. In 1972 the federal system was replaced by a unitary government, and in 1975 the two stars were removed from the green and a single yellow star was placed on the red portion of the flag.
Devereaux D. Cannon, Jr., 27 Feb 2001

In Constitutions - What they tell us about national flags and coat of arms, published by SAVA (2000) Pascal Vagnat & Jos Poels [vap00] indicate Article 1(5) from the Constitution last amended in 1996 which describes (but does not detail) the current flag. The last legislation I have is Law No 84-1 dated 04 February 1984 (issued on the basis of the 1972 Constitution as amended), but this also contains no details regarding a size for the star.
Christopher Southworth 18 August 2003

The Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon was adopted on 02 June 1972 and last changed by Law #96/06 of 18 January 1996:

Part I
On the State and Sovereignty

Article 1
[...]
4. The motto of the Republic of Cameroon is: PEACE - WORK - FATHERLAND
5. Its flag shall be: green, red, yellow in three equal vertical stripes. It is charged with one gold star in the centre of the red stripe.
[...]
7. The seal of the Republic of Cameroon shall be a circular medallion in bas-relief, 46 millimetres in diameter, bearing on the obverse and in the centre the head of a girl in profile turned to the dexter towards a coffee branch with two leaves and flanked on the sinister by five cocoa pods, encircled beneath the upper edge by the French words "Republique du Cameroun" and above the lower edge by the national motto "Paix - Travail - Patrie"; on the reverse and in the centre the coat of arms of the Republic of Cameroon, encircled beneath the upper edge by the English words "Republic of Cameroon" and above the lower edge by the national motto "Peace - Work - Fatherland".
The coat of arms of the Republic of Cameroon shall be an escutcheon surmounted chief by the legend "Republic of Cameroon" and supported two crossed fasces with the motto "Peace - Work - Fatherland" base. The escutcheon shall be composed of a gold star or on a field vert and triangle gules, charged with the geographical outline of Cameroon azure and surcharged with the sword and scales of justice sable.
[...]
Cited from [vap00] by Ivan Sache 23 Aug 2003
 

Size of the star

Size of the star in the flag does not seem to be prescribed so there are many reports of sightings of stars being considerably larger or smaller than illustrated here [Ed.]

In Constitutions - What they tell us about national flags and coat of arms, published by SAVA (2000) Pascal Vagnat & Jos Poels [vap00] indicate Article 1(5) from the Constitution last amended in 1996 which describes (but does not detail) the current flag. The last legislation I have is Law No 84-1 dated 04 February 1984 (issued on the basis of the 1972 Constitution as amended), but this also contains no details regarding a size for the star.
Christopher Southworth 18 August 2003

The local paper yesterday carried a picture from Reuters of flags outside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta. The Cameroon flag, clearly visible in the display, has a much larger star than shown above - it looks like it takes up 7/8 of the width of the central stripe, or maybe more.
James Dignan, 29 Nov 2005

Image by Ivan Sache, 15 Feb 2008

The African Cup of Nations (CAN) football tournament took place in Ghana from 20 January to 10 February 2008. Two big national flags were consistently hung from the stadium during the matches. Those of Cameroon were characterized by having a very small star, hardly visible from a distance. I can add to this report that I saw several flags during a visit in Yaoundé in autumn 2004.  Many were hoisted over official buildings or sold in the streets with no uniformity in the size of the star.
Ivan Sache
, 15 Feb 2008