Northwest Region (Cameroon)
|Departments||Boyo, Bui, Donga-Mantung, Menchum, Mezam, Momo, Ngo-Ketunjia (Ngoketunjia)|
|Area||17,300 km2 (6,680 sq mi)|
|Density||100 / km2 (259 / sq mi) (2nd)|
|Governor||Adolphe Lele Lafrique (2012–)|
The Northwest Region, or North-West Region (Northwest Province until 2008; French: Région du Nord-Ouest) of Cameroon, constitutes part of the territory of the Southern Cameroons. The Northwest region is found in the western highlands of Cameroon. It lies between latitudes 5° 40' and 7° to the north of the equator, and between longitudes 9°45 and 11°10' to the east of the meridian. It is bordered to the southwest by the Southwest Region, to the south by the West Region, to the east by Adamawa Region, and to the north by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Northwest Region (known before 2008 as the Northwest Province) is the third most populated province in Cameroon. It has one major metropolitan city, Bamenda, with several other smaller towns such as Wum, Kumbo, Mbengwi, Ndop, Nkambé, Batibo, Bambui and Oshie. The province saw an increase in its population from about 1.2 million in 1987 to an estimated 1.8 million people in 2010. The population density, at 99.12 people per square kilometer, is higher than the national average of 22.6 people per square kilometre. The provincial urban growth rate is 7.95% (compared to the national average of 5.6%), while the rural growth rate, at 1.16%, is equal to the national rate. According to the Statistical Provincial Services of the North-West Province in 2001, the population of the province is young with over 62% of its residents less than 20 years old. Therefore, the dependency rate in the province is high, particularly in the rural areas.
Like other regions in Cameroon, the North-West Region is made up of administrative divisions. The province was created in 1972 with five divisions or departments: Bui, Donga-Mantung, Menchum, Mezam, and Momo. Today, it has seven divisions. The new ones are Boyo (carved out of the Menchum division) and Ngo-Ketunjia or Ngoketunjia (carved out of Mezam division). Each division is made up of subdivisions. There are thirty-one subdivisions in the North-West Province. Moreover, the basic unit of local government is the council, and there are thirty-two councils in the region.
The North-West Province has many ethnic groups, including many immigrants from other provinces and countries. Nigeria is well represented since it borders the province in the north and northwest. The native population comprises a variety of ethnic and linguistic groups. The main ethnic groups are: Tikari, Widikum, Fulani, and Moghamo. The main languages spoken in the province include Mungaka, Bafmen, Oku, Lamnso, Ngemba, Pidgin English, Balikumbat, Papiakum, Moghamo, and Nkom. Colonial masters created administrative boundaries that cut across ethnic groups and cultures. As a result, parts of some ethnic groups now lie in different divisions and provinces. This is believed to be the cause of many land conflicts.
In the province, the social organisation recognizes at its head a chief, also called the Fon. The Fons, who in their tribal area may sometimes be more influential than administrative authorities, are enthroned as the living representative of the ancestors.
The economy of the province is highly rooted in agriculture. According to some estimates,[who?] more than 80% of the rural population depends solely on agriculture, including a strong livestock sub-sector. Food crops include rice (planted mostly in the Ndop Plain), potatoes (found in the Bui Division and Santa in Mezam Division), and beans (from most of the province). Maize, beans, potatoes, plantains, cocoyams, cassava and yams, many of which are food staples for the region. Cocoyams are used for making Achu, a staple for the Ngemba people and a widely consumed delicacy. Many groundnuts are produced in the North-West, mostly from Esimbi. The province is also a major palm wine producer with one of its towns, Batibo, being the palm wine capital of Cameroon. The wine produced from Batibo, though distributed across the country on a daily basis, still lacks the infrastructure and technology to be produced at an industrial scale.
Industry plays a very small role in the economy of the North-West province both in terms of the number of industries and the number of people employed. Apart from soap production, the rest of the industry is agricultural processing businesses. Local crafts also flourish in some parts of the province with the production of various works of arts from wood, weaving, and pottery. Fabrication of agricultural tools was once a booming sector but is now less significant.
The Northwest is the stronghold for the main opposition party of Cameroon: the Social Democratic Front (SDF). Some Northwesteners feel totally marginalised by the government. A secessionist movement SCNC (Southern Cameroon's National Council) with an agenda to secede from Cameroon and form a republic with English speaking regions as its territory exists in the Northwest. In 2008, the President of the Republic of Cameroon, Paul Biya, signed decrees abolishing "Provinces" and replacing them with "Regions". Hence, the Northwest Province became the Northwest Region.
The Northwest region has unique attractions. The second highest mountain in West Africa is in Oku, home to many rare birds such as the distinctive red crested Bannerman's Turaco, which are unique to this region. There are also many crater lakes such as Lake Oku, Lake Awing, and Lake Nyos. The largest remaining mountain forest in the Northwest Region is the Kilum-Ijim Forest. Menchum Falls, the Abbi Fall in Mbengwi Momo Division, and the Lake Nyos near the Kumfutu and Nyos villages, Cameroon are also located here.
The principal referral hospital for the Province is Bamenda Provincial Hospital.
- Government of Cameroon. "La Population du Cameroun 2010" (pdf) (in French). Retrieved 17 March 2013.
- "Background Note: Cameroon". 2010. Government of Cameroon. Accessed 11 March 2013.