CAMEROON

Country Description: Cameroon is a developing African country. Facilities for tourism are limited.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Cameroon, 2349 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 265-8790/94. Overseas, inquiries should be made to the nearest Cameroonian embassy or consulate.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Several areas of the country have experienced isolated incidents of violence during recent years, largely as a result of the weak local economy and political tensions. Armed bands continue to target vehicles on less traveled routes in the far North and Adamaoua provinces. Particularly dangerous is the area between Waza National Park and Kousseri on the Chadian border. Travel between these locations should be confined to major routes during daylight hours. When possible, travelers should avail themselves of an armed escort of Cameroonian security forces which leave Waza for Kousseri daily.

Upcoming Elections: Cameroon's parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled to occur between March and October 1997. Although Americans have never been the targets of political violence in Cameroon, the coming elections bring with them the possibility of violent demonstrations which could potentially put the unwary at risk. Travelers and U.S. citizens resident in Cameroon are advised to avoid gatherings of large crowds, and are also advised to limit their travel during periods surrounding scheduled elections due to potential political unrest. The elections and political activity associated with them may cause significant changes in the security situation in certain regions of the country.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are limited. Sanitation levels in even the best hospitals are low. Not all medicines are available. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health care services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical service outside the United States. In some cases, supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas and medical evacuation coverage has proven useful. For additional health information, travelers can contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559. Internet: http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Armed banditry is an increasing problem throughout the country, including tourist areas in Cameroon's far north province and in all major cities. To curb banditry, security personnel at random security checkpoints may request persons to show their passports, residence cards, driver's license and/or vehicle registrations. There has been a marked increase in street and residential crime over recent years. Carjackings and burglaries committed by well-armed groups have occurred with increasing frequency in the larger cities, particularly in Yaounde and Douala. The U.S. Embassy advises travelers to follow common-sense security precautions such as locking car, hotel and house doors at all times and remaining aware of the surroundings and any suspicious-looking persons when exiting cars or buildings.

Tourists and business people should note that there is an increasing circulation of counterfeit U.S. and Cameroonian currency in the country. Business travelers have also experienced increased difficulty in obtaining adequate service or security of funds in Cameroon's banking sector in recent years. Business travelers are also advised that using the services of a local agent is a strongly recommended first step in establishing a presence in the Cameroonian market. Caution is required in pursuing joint ventures and licensing arrangements in Cameroon as the investment climate presents enduring high-risk factors.

The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The pamphlets "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa" provide useful information on protecting personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Road Safety/Automobile Travel: Traveling at night in isolated areas of major cities is dangerous. Persons traveling outside the major towns are at extreme risk from armed banditry. Travel at night on rural highways in the far north province is particularly dangerous.

Photography Restrictions: While photography is not officially forbidden, security officials are sensitive about photographs taken of government buildings and military installations, many of which are unmarked. Photography of these subjects may result in seizure of photographic equipment by authorities.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Registration and Embassy Location: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde on Rue Nachtigal, or with the U.S. Embassy office in Douala, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Cameroon. The mailing address for the U.S. Embassy is B.P. 817, Yaounde, Cameroon. The telephone number is (237) 23-40-14, and the fax number is (237) 23-07-53. The U.S. Embassy office in Douala that can be contacted at telephone (237) 42-53-31; the fax number is (237) 42-77-90.

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