Cameroon CFA Franc - XAF
Cameroon is one of a handful of countries that use the Central African CFA franc. The letters CFA stand for Communaute Financiere Africaine. There is a central bank for the African states that issues this currency to all the participating countries.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
This currency is a decimal one that is broken down into 100 centimes, just as many other versions of the franc have been throughout history. However this is one of those situations where it doesn’t actually apply in reality. This is because there are no coins in circulation at present that are denominated in centimes. The ones you can get are plentiful enough though, ranging from the smaller 1, 2 and 5 franc coins through to the 10, 25, 50, 100 and 500 franc coins.
There are fewer notes in use but you’ll soon get to grips with them. They are the 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 franc notes.
From past to present – the history of Cameroon’s Central African CFA franc
We can trace the history of the CFA franc back to 1945. It was brought into the French colonies in the area, which is why a version of the franc was chosen as the official currency. Even before this point though, the countries that adopted it had been using the French Equatorial African franc. The franc has been in use ever since.
How to get hold of Cameroon’s Central African CFA franc
The first thing to be aware of when visiting Cameroon is that they’re not particularly enamoured by cash machines. You’ll be hard-pushed to find one, if any, in the country so it’s best not to rely on them at all. Consider it a bonus if you see one!
Since the currency is pegged to the euro it is a good idea to make this your currency of choice when going into the country. It is by far the easiest currency to exchange, something you can do at a bank. While traveller’s cheques are accepted they’re not as easy to deal with as cash. You shouldn’t hit any difficulties if you turn up at a bank with some euros to exchange, whereas the same may not be true with traveller’s cheques. If you do want to take some, make sure you stick to euro denominations.
You have probably realised by now that cash rules in Cameroon. It’s not the only country in the world to be in this situation so it’s not really that unusual. Now you know this, it won’t come as a huge shock to realise that your credit card will be accepted in a tiny handful of places rather than everywhere. If you book to stay in a hotel you might be fine paying by card, but even then it’s not a given. The rule of thumb is to take in enough cash to tide you over for the entire time you’re in the country.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Central African CFA franc
This currency is pegged to the value of the euro. This is rather appropriate really since the Central African CFA franc is used by a community of countries, much as the euro is used in many parts of Europe. However the pegged rate is not that easy to remember (655.957 at the time of writing) so you might be better off finding out everything you can by using a currency converter.
Simply find the CFA franc by using the appropriate ISO code, XAF. Make sure this is the code you use and not XOF, which relates to another form of the CFA franc used in other countries in this part of the world.
There is a High Commission associated with Cameroon that is situated in London. This site has some interesting information about the country that might come in useful if you are planning to travel there for any reason. You can go to the site’s home page at http://cameroonhighcommission.co.uk/.
Travelling safely with the Cameroon Central African CFA franc
Cameroon is quite a large country and when this article was written only certain portions of it were deemed by the UK government to be safe to visit. While some areas were deemed to be off-limits entirely for safety and security reasons, others were thought to be only suitable for those who absolutely had to visit there. Needless to say this does not include tourists, so please do check the latest information if you have a trip to Cameroon in mind. You never know when things could change and a location that is safe now could be anything but by the time you travel there (or indeed vice versa).
As with other countries in the world, some parts of Cameroon are populated by poorer people than others. These areas are thought to be more dangerous to visitors. While petty crime does occur here there are many instances of more violent crimes taking place as well. Muggings are not uncommon and the situation in many places can change quickly. Always keep your wits about you and don’t travel at night if you can possibly help it. Think safety in numbers as well.
If you are staying in a hotel make sure it is one that offers excellent security. Indeed this should be a common factor wherever you stay. It may sound unnecessary but the best and most secure places have bars on the windows. Make sure your room has a safe too, since this provides you with somewhere to keep your passport, travel documents and also excess cash and valuables. The more you can do to make yourself less attractive as a potential target, the safer you will be.
Where to spend your francs in Cameroon – and what to spend them on
Cameroon is in Africa: this much we know. But whereabouts is it located? It is in Central Africa but to the western side of the Continent. The country is a very rough triangular shape, with Nigeria bordering it on the western side. Chad is then situated on the north-eastern side of the country, with the Central African Republic sitting below this. The southern edge of Cameroon faces three separate countries – Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Congo, viewing them on a map from left to right.
The capital of Cameroon is a city called Yaounde. However this is not the biggest city of its kind in the country. This accolade goes to Douala, which isn’t actually that far away. Douala lies on the coast and it exports all kinds of things grown and created in the country. Meanwhile Yaounde is a very modern city with a market that is well-known among those who live there (it’s worth a visit for tourists too). There are all kinds of sights worth seeing, such as the cathedral, which is rather modern in design and probably unlike any other cathedral you have seen before. The city has a habit of locating museums in buildings that were formerly used for some other purpose. For example the art museum is lovely in itself, but more so since it is housed in what used to be a Benedictine monastery.
The rather aptly-named Mount Cameroon can also be found in this country, quite near to the port of Douala. This is not only the highest point Cameroon has, it also happens to be an active volcano. If you are thinking of trying to climb it you should pay close attention to the safety here and whether or not it is deemed safe to climb. It last erupted in 2012 and has been quite active. It’s also not the kind of mountain you can quickly escape from if it does decide to blow its top!
One thing that might come to mind when you think about this part of Africa is national parks and the opportunity to see lots of wildlife. This is certainly true of Cameroon as well, since you have places such as Korup National Park to visit. The main entrance to the park is nothing if not dramatic; in fact if you search for information on the park by using a search engine you will see a picture of a suspension bridge over a raging river. That’s the entrance! We can’t think of a more impressive way to enter a national park that provides a look into a rainforest.
The whole area is protected but those in charge have done an excellent job of making sure it is highly accessible for tourists to enjoy and appreciate. You can actually lodge here if you wish, although it should be noted that all visits must be with a guide from the local area. While there are campsites and even small lodges here, the facilities are basic. If you really want to feel as if you are at one with nature, Korup National Park will help you get that very feeling.
Cameroon is a relatively well-known country and as you can see it does have some appealing sights and attractions to offer to anyone who wishes to go there. If you are planning to go yourself, you must make sure you are well-stocked with currency to exchange for the local franc. However if you are prepared this could well be a memorable holiday.