In 1884 the country was colonised by the Germans, but after the First World War was partitioned in 1919 by the United Kingdom and France. In 1960 East Cameroon, the French colony, gained its independence and in 1961 it was joined by the British West Cameroon to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon.
The first president of the new country was Ahmadou Babatoura Ahidjo who entered office in 1960. By 1966 he had banned all political parties other than his own, the National Cameroon Union (NCU) and established a one party state.
Due to health reasons Ahidjo stood down as president in 1982 and was replaced by Paul Biya who has been the president of the country ever since.
In 1985 the NCU was renamed the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) and in 1990, after considerable civil unrest, a multi-party democracy was re-established.
The first democratic elections in 1992 were won by the CPDM, but they only managed to secure 88 of the 180 seats in the National Assembly.
After that the CPDM slowly tightened its grip on the country. In 1997 they won 109 seats, in 2002 that went up to 149 seats and in 2007 to 153 seats out of 180 seats.
The President is elected for a seven year term and is eligible to serve a second consecutive term (although an amendment to the constitution on 10th April 2008 was voted through in parliament allowing the president to stand for unlimited elections and to have immunity from prosecution).
The bicameral parliament has an upper house or Senate with 100 members, 70 of which are elected by elected members from 360 local authorities and 30 appointed by the president. The lower house or National Assembly has 180 members serving five year terms from 49 single and multi-seat constituencies.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places Cameroon at joint 145th out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 26 (where 100 is least corrupt).