The Mbum are the indigenous population of Ngaoundéré and the immediate area. The Fulani invaded the area in the early 19th century. The Fulani have ruled the area since the foundation of Ngaoundere in approximately 1835 in conjunction with the Mbum, who are considered a protected people according to Islamic law. The ruler is required to be descended from the ruling Fulani family on his father's side, extending back to the first Lamido of Ngaoundéré Ardo Njobdi of Boundang. On his mother's side, he is expected to be an Mbum descendent, so that he may represent the entirety of the population. Being the largest city in Adamaoua by far, Ngaoundéré attracts numerous settlers from the surrounding rural areas, including Díi from further north, Gbaya from the Meiganga area, and Pere from the west. The population expanded precipitously after completion of the railway in 1973 with a large percentage of that population originating from outside of Adamaoua Province. This is evident in the ironic dichotomy between the so-called Grand Marché, adjacent to the Grand Mosqué and housing mainly local merchants, and the much larger Petit Marché located to the northwest in a neighborhood housing a population largely originating in the southern provinces of Cameroon. The city serves as an important communications hub, linking the south of Cameroon with the northern part of the country. There is a paved road of good standard, albeit with some potholes, extending from Ngaoundéré to Garoua and Maroua, and Chad. The railway from Yaoundé ends here, and the railway station is always sprawling with life. The main goods are bananas, fruits and general goods from the south. The north sends cotton stemming from Nord and Chad and cattle from Adamaoua towards the south.