Primarily located in: Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, Republic of Congo
Also found in: Angola, Chad
Because they lie near or on the equator, these nations typically include tropical rainforest and humid savanna. While the Congo takes its name from the old African kingdom of Kongo, Cameroon gets its name from the first Europeans to arrive in the area in 1472. Portuguese sailors found crayfish in the Wouri River and started calling the land the Rio dos Camarões, or River of Shrimp. Eventually, the word Camarões became Cameroon.
How Black Sovereign compares to the typical person native to the Cameroon/Congo region
Genetic Diversity in the Cameroon/Congo Region
People living in the Cameroon/Congo region today are less admixed than people in most other regions, which means that when creating genetic ethnicity estimates for natives to this area, we sometimes see small similarities to DNA profiles from other nearby regions. We’ve found that approximately 92% of the typical Cameroon/Congo native’s DNA comes from this region.
The slave trade
The international slave trade in this region began with the Portuguese on Cameroon’s west coast, though it became the practice of many European countries. The threat of malaria prevented any significant settlement or conquest of the interior prior to the 1870s—when an effective malaria drug (quinine) became available. So the Europeans initially focused on coastal trade and acquiring slaves. Most slaves were captured by African middlemen from the interior and taken to port cities to be sold, and the flow of human traffic from many ethnic groups was constant. Around 1.5 million slaves left Africa from this region of Cameroon; combined, nearly half of all slaves destined to work in the Western Hemisphere came from Cameroon and the Congo River Basin. Many slaves from the coastal regions of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea ended up in Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina.
The 19th and 20th centuries
Cameroon escaped colonial rule until 1884, when treaties with tribal chiefs brought the area under German domination. After World War I, the League of Nations gave the French a mandate over 80% of the area and the British control of the remaining 20% (the area adjacent to Nigeria). After World War II the country came under a United Nations trusteeship and self-government was granted. Independence was achieved in 1960 for French Cameroon and in 1961 for British Cameroon.
Did You Know?
DNA indicates that John Punch, the first African man documented to have been enslaved for life in the early American Colonies, likely came from the Cameroon region.