Cameroon (named for the large shrimp harvested in the coastal estuary on which Douala is situated) is a large country, fifty-third . biggest in the world in area, with 20,000,000+inhabitants, making it the fifty-eighth largest in the world based on population. Douala is its biggest and richest city; 3,000,000 folk live there. Actually Douala is the richest city in all West Africa. Having attained its independence in 1960, Cameroon has had a stable government, permitting development of infrastructure (roads & railways), an agricultural economic base, and a thriving petroleumindustry. The country has a very young population, with a median age of just 19. Life expectancy is only 55, however. Literacy rates reflect a better educational system than most of the other West African countries. About 76% of the people are literate, able to read and write in one or both of the official languages: French and English. Because it is chiefly an industrial and port city, Douala has very little to attract tourists. What brought the Clipper O was the port and the international airport in Douala. Therefore we were not expecting a great deal from our guided tour of the city. So we were not disappointed! We found the inner city rather depressing and were warned about walking around in the city alone. It looked poor and sad so we thought we understood why crime might be a problem. How shocked I was to learn on returning home that Douala is the richest city in West Africa. That fact did not mesh well with what we saw and felt there.
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