192-PART GUIDE TO THE WORLD: PART 31 CAMEROON

OFFICIAL NAME

Republic of Cameroon.

LANGUAGE

Lots of them. Around 279 African languages spoken within its borders. Official languages are French and English, although French is the more widely spoken.

POPULATION

About 15.4 million.

SIZE

475,000 square kilometres, or slightly larger than California.

NATIONAL DISH

Groundnut stew is a staple. Bushmeat brochettes comprising snake and antelope are also widely available.

BEST MONUMENT

Foumban, the clay-brick 14th-century palace at Nmou, inhabited by several successive royal dynasties over hundreds of years, and now housing a fascinating museum.

MOST FAMOUS CITIZEN

Roger Milla, the national team's striker in the 1990 football World Cup. He came to the world's attention for his dazzling football, even more impressive when you consider his (alleged) age. He claimed to be in his "late thirties", although rumours abounded that he was closer to 50. He helped Cameroon to their 1-0 victory over the then world champions, Argentina, in the tournament's opening match.

BEST MOMENT IN HISTORY

See above.

WORST MOMENT IN HISTORY

The 1990 World Cup quarter-final. Cameroon dominated England in the first half. But 10 minutes before the final whistle, England equalised, scraping through in extra time to win 3-2. More seriously, it would be the coup attempted by the Republican Army in 1984, when up to 1,000 died.

ESSENTIAL ACCESSORY

Avon "skin-so-soft" bath oil - a good mosquito repellent.

WHAT NOT TO DO

Climb Mount Cameroon during a volcanic eruption. It has a tendency to swallow whole houses when active, as it was in March 1999.

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