Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon, is a country in west-central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west and north; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Its coastline lies on the Bight of Biafra, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. Although it is not an ECOWAS member state, it is geographically and historically in West Africa; the Southern Cameroons, which now form its North West and South West Regions, have particularly strong links to West African history. The country is sometimes identified as West African and other times as Central African, due to its strategic position at the crossroads between West and Central Africa. Its nearly 25 million people speak 250 native languages.
Early inhabitants of the territory included the Sao civilisation around Lake Chad, and the Baka hunter-gatherers in the southeastern rainforest. Portuguese explorers reached the coast in the 15th century and named the area Rio dos Camarões, which became Cameroon in English.