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Panoramic view
Cameroon adm location map.svg
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Map of Cameroon showing the location of Douala
Coordinates: 04°03′N009°41′E / 4.050°N 9.683°E / 4.050; 9.683
Country Cameroon
Region Littoral
Department Wouri
  Total210 km2 (80 sq mi)
13 m (43 ft)
 (2015 Projection)
  Total5,768,400 [1]
Time zone UTC+1 (WAT)
  Summer (DST) UTC+1 (WAT)
Climate Am

Douala is the largest city in Cameroon and its economic capital. It is also the capital of Cameroon's Littoral Region. Home to Central Africa's largest port and its major international airport, Douala International Airport (DLA), it is the commercial and economic capital of Cameroon and the entire CEMAC region comprising Gabon, Congo, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic and Cameroon. Consequently, it handles most of the country's major exports, such as oil, cocoa and coffee, timber, metals and fruits. As of 2015, the city and its surrounding area had an estimated population of 5,768,400. [1] The city sits on the estuary of Wouri River and its climate is tropical.



The German corvette SMS Olga at the bombardment of Hickorytown, Cameroon (today Duala) on December 21, 1884 SMS OLGA bei der Beschiessung von Hickorytown (Duala), Kamerun, Dezember 1884.jpg
The German corvette SMS Olga at the bombardment of Hickorytown, Cameroon (today Duala) on December 21, 1884

The first Europeans to visit the area were the Portuguese in about 1472. At the time, the estuary of Wouri River was known as the Rio dos Camarões (Shrimp River). By 1650, it had become the site of a town formed by immigrants, said to have arrived from Congo, who spoke the Duala language. During the 18th century it was the center of the transatlantic slave trade.

In 1826 [2] Douala appeared to be made of four different villages located in four specific locations: the village of Deido (Dido), of Akwa, of Njo and Hickory-town (today Bonaberi, located on the other side of Wouri River).

Between 1884 and 1895 the city was a German protectorate. [3] The colonial politics focused on commerce and some exploration of the unoccupied territories. In 1885, Alfred Saker organized the first mission of the British Baptist Church. In the same year the city known as Kamerun was renamed Douala and became the capital of the territory until 1902, when the capital was moved to Buéa.

In 1907 the Ministry of Colonies was established and Douala had 23,000 citizens. [4]

After World War I in 1919, the German colonial territories became French and British protectorates. France received a mandate to administer Douala. A treaty was signed with the local chiefs.

From 1940 to 1946, it was the capital of Cameroon. [5] In 1955 the city had over 100,000 inhabitants. [4]

In 1960, Cameroon gained independence as a federal republic, with its capital in Yaoundé. Douala became the major economic city. In 1972, the federal republic became a unitary state. Douala then had a population of around 500,000. [4]

In the 1980s, in Cameroon the struggle for liberalization and multi-party democracy grew. Between May and December 1991, Douala was at the center of the civil disobedience campaign called the ghost town operation (ville morte) during which economic activities shut down to make the country ungovernable and to force the government to allow multi-partitism and freedom of expression. [6]

Lake parcour vita douala Cameroon Lake parcour vita douala Cameroon.jpg
Lake parcour vita douala Cameroon
Societe Camerounaise de depot petrolier douala Cameroon Societe Camerounaise de depot petrolier douala Cameroon.jpg
Société Camerounaise de dépôt pétrolier douala Cameroon


With the arrival of the Portuguese in the 15th century, the area was known as Rio dos Camarões. Before coming under German rule in 1884, [7] the town was also known as Cameroons Town; thereafter it became Kamerunstadt ("Cameroon City"), the capital of German Kamerun. It was renamed Douala in 1907 after the name of the natives known as Dua ala Ijaws (Njos), and became part of French Cameroon in 1919. Many of the Ijaw (Njo) natives migrated to the Niger Delta in Nigeria during the Portuguese era.


Bridge over the Wouri River Pont sur le Wouri.JPG
Bridge over the Wouri River

The city is located on the banks of the Wouri River, the two sides linked by Bonaberi Bridge.


Douala features a tropical monsoon climate (Köppen climate classification Am), with relatively consistent temperatures throughout the course of the year, though the city experiences somewhat cooler temperatures in July and August. Douala typically features warm and humid conditions with an average annual temperature of 27.0 °C (80.6 °F) and an average humidity of 83%. [8] [9] Douala sees plentiful rainfall during the course of the year, experiencing on average roughly 3,600 millimetres (140 in) of precipitation per year. [8] Its driest month is December, when on average 28 millimetres (1.1 in) of precipitation falls, while its wettest month is August, when on average nearly 700 millimetres (28 in) of rain falls. [8]

Climate data for Douala (1971-2000, extremes 1885-present)
Record high °C (°F)35.8
Average high °C (°F)32.2
Daily mean °C (°F)27.8
Average low °C (°F)23.4
Record low °C (°F)18.0
Average precipitation mm (inches)34.2
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)591518212327302624125215
Average relative humidity (%)80798081828587888684838283
Mean monthly sunshine hours 193.3179.1171.9176.5175.8123.,713.2
Source 1: World Meteorological Organization [8] Meteo Climat (record highs and lows) [10]
Source 2: Deutscher Wetterdienst (humidity, 1957-1990), [9] NOAA (sun, 1961-1990) [11]


Evolution of population in Douala (in thousands)


With 1.9 million inhabitants in 2005, Douala is the most populated city of Cameroon.


Cameroon is home to nearly 250 languages or dialects. [12] The local indigenous language is Duala, which shares its name with the city. French and English are official languages, but Douala is primarily francophone. In 2014, 63.7% of Douala inhabitants of over 15 years knew how to read and write French, while 76.4% knew how to speak and understand French. [13]

Urbanism and contemporary life

The city of Douala is divided into seven districts (Akwa, Bassa, Bonabéri, Bonapriso, Bonanjo, Deïdo and New Bell) [14] and it has more than 120 neighborhoods.

Some of the neighborhoods of Douala include


Palace of the Kings Bell Ars&Urbis International Workshop - Emiliano Gandolfi 176.JPG
Palace of the Kings Bell
Statue of King Akwa in front of the King Akwa Museum LT32 (1) Monument des roi d'akwa.JPG
Statue of King Akwa in front of the King Akwa Museum
Temple of Centeneire LT7 (2) Temple du Centeneire.JPG
Temple of Centeneire

According to Jacques Soulillou, [15] historical images of Douala document the areas of Akwa (Plateau Joss) and the port between 1860 and 1960, while the districts of Bonaberi, Deido and New Bell have almost no images. The archives which provide documentation about the city are based in Paris, [16] Basel, [17] Hamburg, [18] Potsdam, [19] Douala [20] and Yaoundé. [21]

In 1896 a first urban plan of the city was developed during the German colonial period. The plan included a hospital, the governor residency, the palace of justice, the police station, administrative buildings and buildings for the port and customs (among those the Old Woermann Linie Bachelors House). The Bonakouamouang Chimney also dates back to this period. In 1904 construction of the Villa Mandessi Bell was begun. In 1905 the palace of the King Manga Ndumbe Bell (also called la Pagode) was built, and in 1906 the general plan of Gross Douala was established. In 1914 the large population living in Bonanjo was moved to the new estate of Neue Bell (New Bell).

Between 1925 and 1930, during the French colonial period, the chamber of commerce, the new palace of justice, the new railway station, the vault of the Kings Bell and the catholic cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul were built. Constructions were intensified between 1930 and 1955 and in 1955 the bridge on Wouri River was built. In 1935 the Mausoleum of the Kings Akwa was constructed. In 1947 the Temple of the Centenary was built. In 1959 a new city plan was designed (Plan Dorian); according to Danièle Diwouta-Kotto, [4] this plan is still influencing Douala's urban development. After the independence of 1960 a new development and urban plan were established. In 1998 a research prepared the diagnostic for the 2015 horizon. In 2005 a new development and urban plan was designed and routes and public canalizations were reestablished and created. In the same year the Project Sawa-Beach was launched. Since 1888, terracotta bricks have been produced in Douala. [4]

The publication Suites architecturales [4] focuses on heritage and reappropriation in the architecture of Douala, and it presents some of the characteristics of the buildings and architecture of Douala after its independence. Among those buildings are the casino, the show-room La Meublerie, the exhibition hall Cami-Toyota, Union Bank of Cameroon, Immeuble Hollando, the Baptist church, Immeuble Victoria, headquarters of CA-SCB, espace doual'art, and Orange Flagship. The Palace Dika Akwa Mukanda was built in 1990.

Along the city's main thoroughfare lie some of Cameroon's best restaurants, coffee houses and French-style patisseries; along the waterfront, many bars and bistros may be found, commanding views of the Gulf of Guinea and nearby mangrove swamps. Many of these are frequented by the city's large expatriate population, mainly French or Lebanese, most of whom work in the petroleum industry.[ citation needed ]


Places of worship

The city's population is predominantly Christian and contains houses of worship of numerous denominations : Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Douala (Catholic Church), Evangelical Church of Cameroon (World Communion of Reformed Churches), Presbyterian Church in Cameroon (World Communion of Reformed Churches), Union of Baptist Churches in Cameroon (Baptist World Alliance), Integrity for All (Christian Missionary Fellowship and Associated Churches), Full Gospel Mission Cameroon (Assemblies of God). [22] There are also Muslim mosques.

A small community has begun to practice Judaism in Douala, but they do not have a synagogue yet. [23]


As in most large cities in Cameroon there are several nursery, primary, secondary and high schools in the city. In recent years there has been a surge in the number of private schools. [ citation needed ] It is interesting to note that there is also a large, informal educational sector that caters to a huge part of the population, mostly individuals with a primary school certificate or those with no education at all. [ citation needed ] This form of education is common in sectors like cloth manufacturing, bread making, construction, security, and car repairing. Individuals from these informal sectors are by far the most visibly deprived in neighborhoods such as Ndokoti, Bepanda, Village, Logbaba.

The city of Douala is home to a number of higher education institutions, including the University of Douala. [24] There are also a number of professional schools, the most prominent one being the Douala Maritime institute. Douala has an aviation school called CAE Oxford Aviation Academy Douala.


Gare de Bessengue, Douala's train station Gare de Bessengue 2.JPG
Gare de Bessengué, Douala's train station
Douala International Airport Aeroport de Douala (cameroun).jpg
Douala International Airport
Douala seaport Bateau au port de Douala1.jpg
Douala seaport

Douala is linked by rail to Yaoundé, Ngaoundéré, Kumba and Nkongsamba. Douala has a fairly developed road network compared to other cities in Cameroon. However many of the city's roads have decayed due to years of neglect and corruption. Efforts have recently been made to renovate the city's roads, especially in the most deprived neighborhoods. In spite of the numerous domestic and international investments, the roads remain in deplorable state largely due to embezzlement and corruption. [ citation needed ]

A tram network is planned for Douala, with the first line projected to open in 2021. [25]

The Douala International Airport is located in the eastern part of the city. There are direct flights to several European cities, including Paris, Brussels, and Istanbul. Regional and continental destinations include Abidjan, Brazzaville, Dakar, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Lagos, Malabo, and Nairobi. The airport is the busiest in the CEMAC area and is the hub for Cameroon's national carrier, Camairco. The airport is in dire need of renovations due to poor circulation and old infrastructure.

The seaport has 8.5 metres (28 feet) of draft.


Douala is a city with a modest oil resource in Africa, but is in excellent agricultural condition, therefore it has one of best economies in Africa. However, it also faces some problems like other underdeveloped countries such as heavy civil service and bad climate (flood, tornado, storm) to business.[ citation needed ]

Main economic parameters are:

Mboppi market Rue du marche Mboppi a Douala1.jpg
Mboppi market

Wealth and poverty

Even though Douala is the economic center of Cameroon, a large percentage of its inhabitants live below the poverty line. Recent data shows that about thirty percent of the population lives in poverty (Avameg, Inc). While the aforementioned percentage is doubled for rural regions, poverty is a growing problem for Douala due to its steadily increasing population. Unlike the rural populations of Cameroon that can grow their own foods to lessen their expenses, Douala locals are disadvantaged by living in the port city where there are not many opportunities for monetary gain. [26]

Notable people

Twin towns – sister cities

Doula is twinned with the following places:

See also

Related Research Articles

Duala is a dialect cluster spoken by the Duala and Mungo peoples of Cameroon. Douala belongs to the Bantu language family, in a subgroup called Sawabantu. It is a tonal language with subject–verb–object word order. Maho (2009) treats Douala as a cluster of five languages: Douala proper, Bodiman, Oli, Pongo and Mongo. He also notes a Douala-based pidgin named Jo.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Duala people</span> Ethnic group in Cameroon

The Duala are a Bantu ethnic group of Cameroon. They primarily inhabit the littoral and southwest region of Cameroon and form a portion of the Sawabantu or "coastal people" of Cameroon. The Dualas readily welcomed German and French colonial policies. The number of German-speaking Africans increased in four West African German colonies prior to 1914. The Duala leadership in 1884 placed the tribe under German rule. Most converted to Protestantism and were schooled along German lines. Colonial officials and businessmen preferred them as inexpensive clerks to German government offices and firms in Africa. They have historically played a highly influential role in Cameroon due to their long contact with Europeans, high rate of education, and wealth gained over centuries as slave traders and landowners.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Littoral Region (Cameroon)</span> Region of Cameroon

The Littoral Region is a region of Cameroon. Its capital is Douala. As of 2004, its population was 3,174,437. Its name is due to the region being largely littoral, and associated with the sea coast.

George or Joss, born Doo a Makongo or Doo a Mukonga, was a king of the Duala people in the late 18th century. Doo a Makongo was the son of Makongo a Njo. He lived at Douala on the Wouri estuary on the coast of Cameroon. By 1788–1790, Doo was a powerful ruler in the area. During this time, the British slave trade was at its height, and Douala was the primary trading post in the region.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wouri River</span> River in Cameroon

The Wouri is a river in Cameroon. Cameroon has two major rivers, the Sanaga, the longest at about 525 km long and the Wouri, the largest. The Wouri forms at the confluence of the rivers Nkam and Makombé, 32 km (20 mi) northeast of the city of Yabassi. It then flows about 160 km (99 mi) southeast to the Wouri estuary at Douala, the chief port and industrial city in the southwestern part of Cameroon on the Gulf of Guinea. The river is navigable about 64 km (40 mi) upriver from Douala.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rudolf Duala Manga Bell</span> King and resistance leader in the former German colony of Kamerun

Rudolf Duala Manga Bell was a Duala king and resistance leader in the German colony of Kamerun (Cameroon). After being educated in both Kamerun and Europe, he succeeded his father Manga Ndumbe Bell on 2 September 1908, styling himself after European rulers, and generally supporting the colonial German authorities. He was quite wealthy and educated, although his father left him a substantial debt.

Ewonde a Kwane was a Duala ruler of the Bonambela/Akwa lineage who lived in Douala on the Wouri River. Ewonde was the son of the powerful chief Kwane a Ngie. Ewonde died early, causing a secession crisis in Bonambela. Ngando a Kwa claimed to be his heir and declared himself equal to Bele a Doo, leader of the Bonanjo/Bell lineage. Ewonde's daughter Kanya married Enjobe, an Aboh slave or immigrant in Douala. Their son would found the Bonambele/Deido sublineage. Duala tradition states that another of Ewonde's daughters, Lesenge, married into Isubu royalty and was the mother of King William of Bimbia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Doual'art</span>

doual'art is a non profit cultural organisation and art centre founded in 1991 in Douala, Cameroon and focussed on new urban practices of African cities.

Auguste Manga Ndumbe Bell was a leader of the Duala people of southern Cameroon from 1897 to 1908 during the period after the German colonialists assumed control of the region as the Kamerun colony.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ndumbe Lobe Bell</span> Bell King of the Duala

Ndumbé Lobé Bell or King Bell was a leader of the Duala people in Southern Cameroon during the period when the Germans established their colony of Kamerun. He was an astute politician and a highly successful businessman.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wouri estuary</span>

The Wouri estuary, or Cameroon estuary is a large tidal estuary in Cameroon where several rivers come together, emptying into the Bight of Biafra. Douala, the largest city in Cameroon, is at the mouth of the Wouri River where it enters the estuary. The estuary contains extensive mangrove forests, which are being damaged by pollution and population pressures.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Palace of King Bell</span> Palace in Douala, Cameroon

The Palace of King Bell situated in Douala is a building constructed in 1905 by the Germans for King Auguste Manga Ndumbe. The building is also known as La Pagode; this name comes from the French writer Louis-Ferdinand Céline, who remained in Douala in 1916-17, who calls it such in his famous novel Voyage au bout de la nuit.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bonakouamouang Chimney</span> Industrial building, chimney in Douala, Cameroon

The Bonakouamouang Chimney – situated in Douala, Cameroon in the district of Akwa neighborhood of Bessegue – is a relict of the waterworks built by the Germans at the beginning of the 19th century. The waterworks was part of the first phase of industrial investments aimed at the urbanisation of Kamerunstadt (Douala).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Former police station of Douala</span> Police station in Douala, Cameroon

The former police station situated in Douala is a building constructed at the beginning of the 20th century by the Germans to serve as the first police station under the German mandate.

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Douala, Cameroon.

<i>La Nouvelle Liberté</i>

La Nouvelle Liberté is a public artwork in the Deido suburb, in Douala (Cameroun).

<i>Arbre à palabres</i> (Bonambappe)

L'arbre à palabres is a permanent sculpture located in Douala (Cameroon). Created by the architecte Frédéric Keiff in 2007, it looks like a palaver tree, whose trunk and branches are made of painted iron rods, while attached fragments of colored glass represent leaves.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Danièle Diwouta-Kotto</span>

Danièle Diwouta-Kotto, is a Cameroonian designer and architect, member of the Cameroon architects association (ONAC) and founder of the V.A.A. Villes et Architectures d'Afrique organization.


  1. 1 2 "Cameroon: Regions, Major Cities & Towns - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information".
  2. Notes from Richard Mother Jackson published in R.-P. Bouchaud 1948 and 1952.
  3. Britannica, Douala,, USA, accessed on July 7, 2019
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Diwouta-Kotto, Danièle (2010). Suites architecturales: Kinshasa, Douala, Dakar. Épinal: Association VAA, p. 42.
  5. Mark Dike DeLancey, Mark W. Delancey, Rebecca Neh Mbuh, Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cameroon, Rowman & Littlefield, USA, 2019, p. 176
  6. Edmond Kamguia Koumchou (2003), Le Journalisme du Carton Rouge. Douala: Editions l'Etincelle d'Afrique.
  7. "Cameroon and the German Lake Chad Railway". World Digital Library . Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  8. 1 2 3 4 "World Weather Information Service – Douala". World Meteorological Organization. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  9. 1 2 "Klimatafel von Douala (Duala), Observatorium / Kamerun" (PDF). Baseline climate means (1961-1990) from stations all over the world (in German). Deutscher Wetterdienst. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  10. "Station Douala" (in French). Meteo Climat. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  11. "Douala Climate Normals 1961-1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration . Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  12. Kouega, Jean-Paul (2007). "The Language Situation in Cameroon". Current Issues in Language Planning. 8 (1): 3–94. doi:10.2167/cilp110.0. S2CID   143923073.
  13. La langue française dans le monde, Éditions Nathan, 2014, p. 30.
  14. "Douala, Cameroon", in Dickson Eyoh, Paul Tiyambe Zeleza (eds), Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century African History, Routledge, 2002, p. 151.
  15. Jacques Soulillou (1989), Douala, un siècle en images. Paris: L'Harmattan, p. 9.
  16. French national archives, Section Outre-mer and Départment des Estampes; Documentation Français, Photothèque Afrique; Archives des Pères du Saint-Esprit; Archives des Missions des Églises Évangeliques; Agence France Press.
  17. Archives of Mission 21.
  18. Welwirtschafsvelten; Deutsch Afrika Linien.
  19. Staatliche Archivverwaltung.
  20. Archive Photo Prunet.
  21. Goethe Institut.
  22. J. Gordon Melton, Martin Baumann, ‘‘Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices’’, ABC-CLIO, USA, 2010, p. 484-486
  23. "A SYNOPSIS OF THE JEWS OF SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA". Sub-Saharan African Synagogues. Retrieved 2023-03-16.
  24. Presidential act n° 93/030 of 19 January 1993.
  25. "Douala tram project poised to launch". 15 February 2019.
  26. "Cameroon". Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  27. "Cameroun : qui était Son Altesse Royale le Prince René Douala Manga Bell ?". (in French). 4 January 2013..
  28. "Kenny Kadji". University of Miami Athletics. June 2, 2017.
Bonamousadi douala Cameroon Bonamousadi douala Cameroon.jpg
Bonamousadi douala Cameroon

Further reading

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Douala at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 4°03′N9°42′E / 4.050°N 9.700°E / 4.050; 9.700