Cameroon comprises an estimated 250 distinct ethnic groups, which may be formed into five large regional-cultural divisions:
western highlanders (Semi-Bantu or grassfielders), including the Bamileke, Bamum (or Bamoun), and many smaller Tikar groups in the Northwest (est. 38% of total population);
coastal tropical forest peoples, including the Bassa, Duala (or Douala), and many smaller groups in the Southwest (12%);
southern tropical forest peoples, including the Beti-Pahuin, Bulu (a subgroup of Beti-Pahuin), Fang (subgroup of Beti-Pahuin), Maka, Njem, and Baka pygmies (18%);
predominantly Islamic peoples of the northern semi-arid regions (the Sahel) and central highlands, including the Fulani (French: Peul or Peuhl; Fula: Fulɓe) (14%); and
the "Kirdi", non-Islamic or recently Islamic peoples of the northern desert and central highlands (18%).
An up-to-date demographic profile is unavailable from the country's government, which hasn't published census data since 1976.
The Cameroon government held two national censuses during the country's first 44 years as an independent country, in 1976 and again in 1987. Results from the second head count were never published. A third census, expected to take years to produce results, began on November 11, 2005, with a three-week interviewing phase. It is one of a series of projects and reforms required by the International Monetary Fund as prerequisites for foreign debt relief.
There are 24 major African language groups in Cameroon; additionally, English and French are official languages. Cameroonian Pidgin English is also widely spoken.
Peoples concentrated in the Southwest and Northwest Provinces — around Buea and Bamenda — use standard English and Cameroonian Pidgin English, as well as their local languages. In the three northern provinces — Adamawa, North, and Far North — either French or Fulfulde (the language of the Fulani) is widely spoken.
Elsewhere, French is the principal second language, although pidgin and some local languages such as Ewondo, the dialect of a Beti clan from the Yaoundé area, have a wide currency.
Indigenous languages of Cameroon include: