The Port of Douala is the Cameroon’s major seaport. Located on the shores of the Wouri River estuary some 24 kilometers upstream and about 210 kilometers west of Yaounde, the city has road, rail, and air connections to all of the country’s major cities. This deep-water port is home to most of the country’s international trade, and it has facilities dedicated to cargoes that include timber, gasoline, bauxite, and bananas. It has serves a busy fishing industry.
The Port of Douala is among central Africa’s most important industrial centers. It is home to breweries, food-processing plants, and factories that produce palm-oil, soap, building materials, plastics, soaps, glass, bicycles, and paper goods. The port includes a ship repairing facility. In 1987, the population of the Port of Douala city was over 810 thousand people, and in 1991, the urban area contained around 1.6 million people.
Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to come to the Port of Douala in the late 15th Century. By the middle 17th Century, immigrants from Africa’s interior had created a town there. It probably got its name from Duala, the name of the ethic group that settled the area.
In the 18th Century, it became a focal point for the slave trade known as Cameroons Town. The Port of Douala came under the rule of Germany in 1884 when it was made capital of the German protectorate of Cameroon. In 1907, it was renamed Douala, and it became part of the French colony in 1919. The Port of Douala was capital of Cameroon from 1940 to 1946.
Modern Douala is a mix of modern, colonial, and traditional architecture. The city grew quickly after World War II, becoming the country’s most populous city today. It is a patch-work of western-style residential neighborhoods sprinkled with poorer areas where unskilled workers who have migrated from Cameroon and other countries in Africa.
The modern Port of Douala is divided into quarters. While Bonajo is the commercial and administrative center, Akwa is center to the city’s nightlife. Many French and Lebanese ex-patriates live in the Port of Douala today, working in the petroleum industry. The Port of Douala may well have the highest cost of living of all African cities. In 2007, it was ranked as the world’s 24th most expensive city.