The region is divided into six divisions or departments: Fako, Koupé-Manengouba, Lebialem, Manyu, Meme, and Ndian. These are in turn broken down into subdivisions. Presidentially appointed senior divisional officers (prefets) and subdivisional officers (sous-prefets) govern each respectively.
The region was notable for having the first English-speaking university in Cameroon (the University of Buea), the first vice-chancellor being Professor Tanyi Mbuagbaw. Akin to the Northwest Region, the Southwest enjoys a considerably better infrastructure than its francophone neighbours.
Towns include the capital Buea, Limbe, Tiko, Kumba and Mamfe. Limbe in particular is a popular tourist resort notable for its fine beaches. Korup National Park is also a major attraction. Buea itself, meanwhile, sits at the foot of Mount Cameroon, and possesses an almost temperate climate markedly different from the rest of the province.