Yaoundé, also spelled Yaunde, is the city and capital of Cameroon. It is situated on a hilly, forested plateau between the Nyong and Sanaga rivers in the south-central part of the country. It is the second largest city in Cameroon, after Douala, with a population of over 4 million people. Lying in the center region of the nation at an elevation of 750 meters above sea level, the city has a tropical climate
Yaoundé is built on a mountainous area surrounded by seven hills hence its nickname – the city of seven hills. Some geographers have added Yaoundé to the famous list of cities of seven hills, among cities like Paris, Rome, Lisbon, Washington and Pretoria. It is a city offering a touristic site filled with valleys, plateaus and hills. Just like these other cities, Yaounde not only has these hills but many more. Several narratives exist for this.
In many African countries, a capital city is both an economic and political capital. This is not the case for Cameroon. The nation has ‘2 capitals’;
Yaounde – The administrative center and political capital
Douala – Biggest city in Cameroon and the economic capital
A city of more than 4 million people, Yaounde is the center of political power and the capital of Cameroon. The city is located in the Center province and stretches along the small river Mfoundi, which flows through the city from North to South. It is located on the homeland of the Ewondo and Eton peoples ( Members of the large ethnic group Fang-Beti).
Most of Yaoundé’s economy is centered on the administrative structure of the civil service and the diplomatic services. Owing to these high-profile central structures, Yaounde has a higher standard of living and security than the rest of Cameroon.
The city center houses government offices, several hotels and the central market. The Bastos district-a neighborhood in Yaounde with most homes owned by Cameroonians, is home to foreign embassies and the expatriate European, American and other continental communities. The presidential palace and compound are in the Etoudi district.
Unity Palace is a public building in Cameroon. Unity Palace is situated nearby the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and African Model Forest Network. It is a great marvel of architectural lines with towering pillars supporting its walls. Located in the northern districts of Yaounde. It was designed by French-Tunisian architect Olivier Clement Cacoub.
The palace sits in the middle of the complex which spreads over several hectares above a hill originally belonging to the Etoud, an indegenous group in Cameroon. The palace is a vast complex housing the residence and offices of the head of state of Cameroon. It is currently the official residence of President Paul Biya who has been in power since 1982. Wikipedia writes, ‘He is the second longest ruling president in Africa, oldest head of state in Africa and the longest ruling non-royal leader in the world.’
Cameroon’s Reunification monument was built in the 1970s. It was constructed to memorialize the post-colonial merging of British and French Cameroon, that is, Anglophone and Francophone parts. Designed by architects Engelbert Mveng, Atelier Arts Negre and Gedeon Mpondo, it is located in Yaounde. Another reunification monument is located in Mamfe, a city in a division of the Southwest region in Cameroon.
One writer says, ‘ President Ahmadou Ahidjo and the public authorities commissioned this landmark as a celebration of the Cameroonian people’s prosperity in the aftermath of Independence. The history of this unification is important for education because it brings together the historical memory of approximately 200-250 ethnic groups living together in the Republic of Cameroon, a mosaic of cultures committed to sharing a common life.’ Go up its winding staircase and consider scribbling something on its walls like others before leaving! You will also have a spectacular view of the city from here and might just be part of an outdoor event on the beautiful grounds below.
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