Cameroon is a member of both the Commonwealth of Nations and La Francophonie. Its foreign policy closely follows that of its main ally, France (one of its former colonial rulers).
Cameroon relies heavily on France for its defence although military spending is high in comparison to other sectors of government.
President Biya has engaged in a decades-long clash with the government of Nigeria over possession of the oil rich Bakassi peninsula. Cameroon and Nigeria share a 1,000 mile border and have disputed the sovereignty of the Bakassi peninsula.
In 1994 Cameroon petitioned the International Court of Justice to resolve the dispute. The two countries attempted to establish a cease-fire in 1996, however, fighting continued for years.
In 2002, the ICJ ruled that the Anglo-German Agreement of 1913 gave sovereignty to Cameroon. The ruling called for a withdrawal by both countries and denied the request by Cameroon for compensation due to Nigeria’s long-term occupation.
By 2004, Nigeria had failed to meet the deadline to handover the peninsula. UN-mediated summit in June 2006 facilitated an agreement for Nigeria to withdraw from the region and both leaders signed the Greentree Agreement. The withdrawal and handover of control was completed by August 2006.
The constitution divides Cameroon into 10 semi-autonomous regions, each under the administration of an elected Regional Council. Each region is headed by a presidentially appointed governor.
These leaders are charged with implementing the will of the president, reporting on the general mood and conditions of the regions, administering the civil service, keeping the peace, and overseeing the heads of the smaller administrative units.
Governors have broad powers: they may order propaganda in their area and call in the army, gendarmes, and police. All local government officials are employees of the central government’s Ministry of Territorial Administration, from which local governments also get most of their budgets.
The regions are subdivided into 58 divisions (French départements). These are headed by presidentially appointed divisional officers (préfets).
The divisions are further split into sub-divisions (arrondissements), headed by assistant divisional officers (sous-prefets). The districts, administered by district heads (chefs de district), are the smallest administrative units.
The three northernmost regions are the Far North (Extrême Nord), North (Nord), and Adamawa (Adamaoua). Directly south of them are the Centre and East.
The South Province (Sud) lies on the Gulf of Guinea and the southern border. Cameroon’s western region is split into four smaller regions: the Littoral (Littoral) and Southwest (Sud-Ouest) regions are on the coast and the Northwest (Nord-Ouest) and West (Ouest) regions are in the western grassfields.