The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a regional group of fifteen West African countries. Founded on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, its mission is to promote economic integration across the region.
Considered one of the pillars of the African Economic Community, the organization was founded in order to achieve "collective self-sufficiency" for its member states by creating a single large trading bloc through an economic and trading union. It also serves as a peacekeeping force in the region. The organization operates officially in three co-equal languages—English, French, and Portuguese.
The ECOWAS consists of two institutions to implement policies -- the ECOWAS Commission and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development, formerly known as the Fund for Cooperation until it was renamed in 2001.
A few members of the organization have come and gone over the years. In 1976 Cape Verde joined ECOWAS, and in December 2000 Mauritania withdrew, having announced its intention to do so in December 1999.
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