Cameroon, a real meeting ground of different regions, moreover morphologically tormented, is an ethnic mosaic. The most ancient peoples are represented by pygmoids living in the southern forest areas (binga or babinga, gielli or bagielli), in recent centuries occupied by the bantu fang, the largest group (20%), and by the more fragmented groups of the duala (or douala, 15%), the bafia, the maka, the bases. In the region of the highlands, rich in volcanic soils suitable for agriculture, live the mileke or bamileke (18%), once the largest group, the bamun and the tikar, all of Bantoid origin. According to threergroup, Central Cameroon is inhabited by Paleosudanese people, such as the durru, the mbum, the vute, millet farmers who in Adamaua live alongside the Fulbe (10%), pastoral people whose penetration, as well as that of the Haussa, has determined, starting from the century. XVII, profound disturbances in the whole ethnic structure of the country; in northern Cameroon have finally Arabized peoples, like the Kanuri and kotoko. Excluding fang, fulbe, duala and bamileke, the other ethnic groups make up 35.8% of the population. The first groups that came into contact with the Europeans were those of the coast; commercial activities also began here and consequently the first important centers were formed, including Douala and Limbe and, on the fertile slopes of Mount Cameroon, Buéa. More internally, in an area with a healthier climate, Yaoundé arose, the capital. The most densely populated areas (the average density is 41 residents / km²) are those of volcanic origin, therefore more fertile, located in the climatic zones less exposed to seasonal excesses. Thus the eastern slopes of Mount Cameroon, as well as the northern coastal strip, lend themselves to a dense settlement.
One attraction is the Douala-Yaoundé-Bangui road axis and the cotton and peanut plantations along the Benue plain. There is a very strong demographic and economic imbalance between the S, more evolved, and the N of the country. The population went from 2.3 million (according to the 1935 census, which however only concerned the French part) to over 14 million in 1999, recording a very high rate of increase, but common to much of Africa. It lives mostly in villages, chefferies. Social indicators provide a picture of singular contrasts for Cameroon; the schooling rate is high, with almost 70% of the population literate, but life expectancy at birth far from average standards: in 2005 it was 51 years for men, 52 years for women. In more recent years, a massive urbanization process has occurred in the S, caused – among other things – by a significant migratory flow from the populous western mountainous areas. The country’s commercial openings have led to the birth of numerous market centers along the main roads, the most important of which also perform administrative functions. Apart from Douala (the country’s largest port and terminus for railways and penetration roads) and Yaoundé, which are lively modern-looking cities, the main centers are: Nkongsamba, Kumba and Bamenda, in the southwestern highlands; Edéa, a short distance from Douala; Ngaoundéré, in the Adamaua region; Garoua and Maroua, respectively fulcrums of the Benue valley and the northern area.
Cameroon has an extraordinary biodiversity, so much so that on its territory there are all kinds of varieties of flora and fauna present in tropical Africa: the vegetation passes from the rainforest to the gallery forest, to the savannah and finally to the steppe. Along the coastline stretches the rainforest, which is home to a large number of tree species, including oil palm, mahogany, bamboo, teak, ebony and rubber. This is followed by the mangroves, which date back to the river estuaries for considerable stretches. The rainforest gradually gives way to the gallery forest that extends over a vast region along the course of the rivers and the latter, in turn, gives way to the wooded savannah, which develops in the north-central area of the country, on the plateau of Adamaoua. AN of the plateau is the savannah, characterized by increasingly sparse tree species to finally arrive at the real steppe near Lake Chad, where the first extensions of only Grasses appear. The fauna varies with the plant environment: protected areas are 9.9% of the territory. The richest region is the one to the N, especially in the national parks of Bénoué, Boubandjidah and Waza (Cameroon has 14 national parks, as well as numerous other nature reserves, including the Dja wildlife reserve declared a World Heritage Site by ‘ UNESCO in 1987). Among the large animals of the savannah here you can meet: lions, cheetahs, leopards, buffaloes, elephants, hippos, antelopes and kudus, as well as numerous species of primates such as baboons, gorillas and chimpanzees. Unfortunately, as in many other countries of the African continent, environmental protection is badly reconciled with the needs of the local population; in fact, the demand for meat from wild animals, the commercial exploitation of forests, the progress of desertification, the impoverishment of the soil, intensive livestock farming, indiscriminate hunting and fishing have a very negative impact on the maintenance of the country’s biodiversity.