Cameroon has been called a miniature version of the African continent because of its varied topography and wide range of peoples and lifestyles. In rural regions, most of Cameroon's population cultivates food crops for their own consumption and cash crops to earn money. Farmers in different regions cultivate different cash crops: cotton in the north, coffee and cocoa in the south-central
|Household Consumption in PPP Terms|
|Country||All food||Clothing and footwear||Fuel and power a||Health care b||Education b||Transport & Communications||Other|
|Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.|
|a Excludes energy used for transport.|
|b Includes government and private expenditures.|
|SOURCE : World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.|
region, and bananas in the southwest. In the northern provinces, animal herders live semi-nomadic lives, migrating south in search of pastures during the dry season. Rural areas also host a number of small businessmen who purchase goods in rural markets and transport them for sale to urban vendors.
Most Cameroonians live the life of small-scale farmers. Their work routine is dependent on seasonal changes of weather, with different regions of the country subject to different seasonal cycles according to rainfall patterns. In all cases, farming families have annual periods for sowing their crops, laboring their fields, and reaping their harvests. All capable family members, including students and small children, usually contribute to this work, particularly during busy periods. Local schools sometimes plan their schedules to allow pupils the freedom to participate in the seasonal farm work.
Professional and civil servant classes live in urban areas, alongside unskilled workers, and the cities reflect this mix of classes whose lifestyles and living conditions vary according to their occupations and income. The majority of Cameroon's city-dwellers are involved in various informal sector activities that provide limited income. Women play a crucial role in the informal sector economy, supplementing their husbands' income through various working activities, particularly the preparation and selling of food and beverages. Like many other large African cities, Douala and Yaoundé are plagued with increasing crime problems.
Cameroon has a number of unions that represent both private and public sector workers, including civil servants, dock workers, and truckers. These unions have rights to organize, to bargain with employers, and to hold strikes. Some unions have engaged in political demonstrations, but they serve primarily to negotiate with employers for wage increases and prompt payments, and generally represent the interests of employees.