is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the executive branch
of a non-sovereign or sub-national level of government, ranking under the head of state
. In federations
may be the title of a politician
who governs a constituent state
and may be either appointed or elected. The power of the individual governor can vary dramatically between political systems, with some governors having only nominal or largely ceremonial power, with others having complete control over the entire government.
Historically, the title can also apply to the executive officials acting as representatives of a chartered company
which has been granted exercise of sovereignty in a colonial area, such as the British East India Company
or the Dutch East India Company
. These companies operate as a major state within a state with its own armed forces.
The adjective pertaining to a governor is gubernatorial
, from the Latin root gubernare
term for a female governor is the female form governess
, however the modern term for female officials is the gender-neutral form governor
(without the gender-specific suffix -ess
) to avoid confusion with other meanings of governess
Though the legal and administrative framework of provinces, each administrated by a governor, was created by the Romans
, the term governor
has been a convenient term for historians to describe similar systems in antiquity
. Indeed, many regions of the pre-Roman antiquity were ultimately replaced by Roman 'standardized' provincial governments after their conquest by Rome. Plato used the metaphor of turning the Ship of State
with a rudder; the Latin word for rudder is gubernaculum
In Pharaonic times, the governors of each of the various provinces in the kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt (called "nomes"
by the Greeks, and whose names often alluded to local patterns of religious worship) are usually known by the Greek word.
Pre- and Hellenistic satraps
- Media and Achaemenid Persia introduced the satrapy, probably inspired by the Assyrian / Babylonian examples
- Alexander the Great and equally Hellenistic diadoch kingdoms, mainly Seleucids (greater Syria) and Lagids ('Ptolemies' in Hellenistic Egypt)
- in later Persia, again under Iranian dynasties:
- the Sassanid dynasty dispensed with the office after Shapur I (who had still 7 of them), replacing them with petty vassal rulers, known as shahdars
From the creation of the earliest Roman subject provinces, a governor was appointed each year to administer each of them. The core function of a Roman governor was as a magistrate
or judge, and the management of taxation and the public spending in their area.
Under the Republic and the early Empire, however, a governor also commanded military forces in his province. Republican governors were all men who had served in senior magistracies (the consulate
) in Rome in the previous year, and carried related titles as governor (proconsul
). The first Emperor, Octavianus Augustus (who acquired or settled a number of new territories; officially his style was republican: Princeps civitatis
), divided the provinces into two categories; the traditionally prestigious governorships remained as before (in what have become known as "senatorial" provinces), while in a range of others, he retained the formal governorship himself, delegating the actual task of administration to appointees (usually with the title legatus Augusti
). The legatus
sometimes would appoint a prefect
), usually a man of equestrian
rank, to act as his deputy in a subregion of the larger province: the infamous character of Pontius Pilate
in the Christian Gospels
was a governor of this sort.
A special case was Egypt, a rich 'private' domain and vital granary, where the Emperor almost inherited the theocratic status of a Pharaoh. The Emperor was represented there by a governor sui generis
styled praefectus augustalis
, a title evoking the religious cult of the Emperor
Emperors Diocletian (see Tetrarchy
) and Constantine in the third and fourth centuries AD carried out a root and branch reorganisation of the administration with two main features:
- Provinces were divided up and became much more numerous (Italy itself, before the 'colonizing homeland', was brought into the system for the first time); they were then grouped into dioceses, and the dioceses in turn into four praetorian prefectures (originally each under a residing co-emperor);
- Military responsibilities were removed from governors and given to new officials called comes rei militaris (the comital title was also granted to many court and civilian administrative positions) or dux, later also magister militum.
The prestigious governorships of Africa and Asia remained with the title proconsul, and the special right to refer matters directly to the Emperor; the praefectus augustalis
in Alexandria and the comes Orientis
in Antioch also retained special titles. Otherwise, the governors of provinces had various titles, some known as consularis
, some as corrector
, while others as praeses
. Apart from Egypt and the East (Oriens
greater Syria), each diocese was directed by a governor known as a vicarius
. The prefectures were directed by praefecti praetorio
(greatly transformed in their functions from their role in the early Empire
This system survived with few significant changes until the collapse of the empire in the West, and in the East, the breakdown of order with the Persian and Arab invasions of the seventh century. At that stage, a new kind of governor emerged, the Strategos
. It was a role leading the themes
which replaced provinces at this point, involving a return to the amalgamation of civil and military office which had been the practice under the Republic and the early Empire.
While the Roman administration in the West was largely destroyed in the barbarian invasions, its model was remembered; this model became very influential through two particular vehicles: Roman law and the Christian Church.
Holy Roman/Habsburg Empires and successor states
In the Ottoman Empire, all Pashas
(generals) administered a province of the Great Sultan's vast empire, with specific titles (such as Mutessaryf; Vali or Wāli
which was often maintained and revived in the oriental successor states
; Beilerbei (rendered as Governor-general, as he is appointed above several provinces under individual governors) and Dey
British Empire and Commonwealth Realm
Flag of the Governor of Gibraltar
In the British Empire
, a governor was originally an official appointed by the British monarch (or the cabinet) to oversee one of his colonies
and was the (sometimes notional) head of the colonial administration. A governor's power could diminish as the colony gained a more responsible government
vested in such institutions as an Executive Council
to help with the colony's administration, and in a further stage of self-government, Legislative Councils
, in which the Governor often had a role.
Today, crown colonies of the United Kingdom continue to be administered by a governor, who holds varying degrees of power. Because of the different constitutional
histories of the former colonies of the United Kingdom
, the term "Governor" now refers to officials with differing amounts of power.
Frequently the name 'Government House' is given to Governors' residences.
United Kingdom overseas territories
In the United Kingdom's remaining overseas territories
, the governor is normally a direct appointee of the British Government and plays an active role in governing and lawmaking (though usually with the advice
of elected local representatives). The Governor's chief responsibility is for the Defence and External Affairs of the colony.
, each state has the governor as its formal representative of the Queen, as head of the state government. It is not a political office but a ceremonial one. Each state governor is appointed by the Queen of Australia
on the advice of the Premier
, who is the political chief executive of the state government (until 1986, state governors were appointed by the Queen of the United Kingdom
on the advice of the British Government). State Governors have emergency reserve powers but these are rarely used. The Territories
of Australia other than the ACT have Administrators
instead of governors, who are appointed formally by the Governor-general
. The Governor-General is the representative of and appointed by the Queen of Australia
at a federal level on the advice of the Prime Minister of Australia
As with the Governors-General of Australia
and other Commonwealth Realms, State Governors usually exercise their power only on the advice of a government minister.
, there are governors at the federal and provincial levels of government who, within their jurisdictions, act as representatives of the Queen of Canada
, who is Canada's Head of State. The federal governor is the Governor General of Canada
, and the governor of each province is the Lieutenant Governor
. The Governor General is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister of Canada
, whereas the lieutenant governors are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. The role of the Governor General and of the lieutenant governors in Canada is largely ceremonial, although they do retain the authority to exercise reserve powers in exceptional circumstances.
Each of the three territories is headed by a commissioner
appointed by the federal Cabinet
. Unlike provincial lieutenant governors
, they are not representatives of the Queen, but rather are representatives of the federal government.
British Hong Kong (1841–1997)
In the colonial period of Hong Kong
, the governor
was the representative of the Sovereign
from 1843, which was the year that the authorities and duties of the post were officially defined by the Hong Kong Letters Patent
and the Royal Instructions
, until the handover
of Hong Kong to the PRC government
in 1997. Each governor was appointed by the monarch
and possessed significant powers such as the power of appointing lawmakers in the Legislative Council
, the power to grant land, the power of veto over bills
, the power of pardon
, etc. At the same time, the governor was also the head of the colonial cabinet
, the chairman of the Executive Council
, the President of the Legislative Council (until 1993), as well as the commander-in-chief of the British Forces in Hong Kong
Within the United Kingdom
Other colonial empires
European powers other than the United Kingdom, with colonies in Asia, Africa and elsewhere, gave their top representatives in their colonies the title of governor. Those representatives could be from chartered companies that ruled the colonies. In some of these colonies, there are still officials called governors.
Russia and former Soviet Union
A special case was the Chinese Eastern Railway
Zone, which was governed as a concession
granted by Imperial China
to the Russian 'Chinese Eastern Railway Society' (in Russian Obshchestvo Kitayskoy Vostochnoy Zheleznoy Dorogi
; established on 17 December 1896 in St. Petersburg
, later moved to Vladivostok
), which built 1,481 km of tracks (Tarskaya – Hilar – Harbin – Nikolsk-Ussuriski; 3 November 1901 traffic opened) and established on 16 May 1898 the new capital city, Harbin
; in August 1898, the defense for Chinese Eastern Railway (CER) across northeast China
was assumed by Russia (first under Priamur governor).
On July 1, 1903, the Chinese Eastern Railway was opened and given authority of its own CER Administration (Russian: Upravleniye KVZhD
), vested in the Directors of the Chinese Eastern Railway, with the additional quality of Governors of the Chinese Eastern Railway Zone (in Harbin; as such being August 12, 1903 – July 1, 1905 subordinated to the imperial Viceroyalty of the Far East, see Lüshunkou
). The post continued to function despite various political changes until after World War II
Some of the administrative subdivisions of Russia
are headed by governors, while others are headed by Presidents or heads of administration. From 1991 to 2005, they were elected by popular vote and from 2005 to 2012, they were appointed by the federal president and confirmed by the province's legislature. After the debate, conducted by State Duma
in April 2012, the direct elections
of governors were expected to be restored.
Other European countries and empires
for "state captain" or "state governor", literally 'country headman'; plural Landeshauptleute
as in Styria
till 1861; Landeshauptfrau
is the female form) is an official title in German for certain political offices equivalent to a Governor. It has historical uses, both administrative and colonial, and is now used in federal Austria
and in South Tyrol
, a majority German-speaking province of Italy adjacent to Tyrol
- In the Netherlands, the government-appointed heads of the provinces were known as Gouverneur from 1814 until 1850, when their title was changed to King's (or Queen's) Commissioner. In the southern province of Limburg, however, the commissioner is still informally called Governor.
- In the Dutch crown's Caribbean Overseas territories (Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten), the style Governor is still used, alongside the political head of government.
- In Belgium, each of the ten provinces has a Governor, appointed by the regional government. He represents not only the regional, but also the federal government in the province. He controls the local governments and is responsible for law and order, security and emergency action. The national capital of Brussels, which is not part of a province, also has a governor with nearly the same competences.
During the Ancien Régime in France
, the representative of the king in his provinces
and cities was the "gouverneur
". Royal officers chosen from the highest nobility
, provincial and city governors (oversight of provinces and cities was frequently combined) were predominantly military positions in charge of defense and policing. Provincial governors – also called "Lieutenant Generals
" – also had the ability of convoking provincial parlements
, provincial estates and municipal bodies. The title "gouverneur" first appeared under Charles VI
. The ordinance of Blois of 1579 reduced their number to 12, but an ordinance of 1779 increased their number to 39 (18 first-class governors, 21 second-class governors). Although in principle, they were the king's representatives and their charges could be revoked at the king's will, some governors had installed themselves and their heirs as a provincial dynasty. The governors were at the height of their power from the middle of the 16th to the middle of the 17th century, but their role in provincial unrest during the civil wars led Cardinal Richelieu
to create the more tractable positions of intendants
of finance, policing and justice, and in the 18th century the role of provincial governors was greatly curtailed.
Until 1933, the term Landeshauptmann
(state governor) was used in Prussia
for the head of government of a province
In the modern-day states of Germany, the counterpart to Landeshauptmann
is the Ministerpräsident
(minister-president). In the present German states
, and North Rhine-Westphalia
there are – and earlier in more German states there were – sub-state administrative regions called in German
, which is sometimes translated into English as governorate. Thus its respective head, in German
, is also translated as governor.
- The essentially maritime empire of the Venetian republic, comprising Terra Firma, other Adriatic (mainly Istria and Dalmatia) and further Mediterranean (mainly Greek) possessions, used different styles, such as (castelleno e) provveditore (generale) or baile.
- In the fascist regime there was the governor of the colonies of the Italian colonial empire.
- In today's Italy, the official name of a head of a Regione (the Italian subnational entity) is Presidente della Giunta regionale (President of the regional executive council), but since 2000, when a constitutional reform decided the direct election of the president by the people, it has been usual to call him/her governatore/governatrice (governor).
- In the various Italian provinces (former principalities and city-states) that became amalgamated as the Papal States, the Holy See exerted temporal power via its Legates and Delegates, including some Cardinals
- Also in Avignon and the surrounding southern French Comtat Venaissin, the home of the Popes during their 'Babylonian exile', and retained centuries after, but never incorporated into the Papal States, Legates and Vice-legates were appointed.
- The sovereign modern remnant of the formerly large Papal States, the tiny Vatican City State, is now a mere enclave in Rome, the capital of Italian Republic. As it is too small to have further administrative territorial divisions, it is the equivalent of a Prime Minister, Governor and Mayor all rolled into one post, styled the Governor of Vatican City.
Other modern Asian countries
In the People's Republic of China
, the title "Governor" (Chinese
: 省长; pinyin
) refers to the highest ranking executive of a provincial
government. The Governor is usually placed second in the provincial power hierarchy, below the Secretary
of the provincial Communist Party of China
(CPC) committee (省委书记), who serves as the highest ranking Party official in the province. Governors are elected by the provincial congresses and approved by the provincial party chief.
All governors are not locals in the provinces which they govern.
The title can be also used while referring to a County
, each state has a ceremonial Governor appointed by the President of India
. These Governors are different from the Governors who controlled the British-controlled portions of the Indian Empire (as opposed to the princely states) prior to 1947.
A Governor is the head of a state in India. Generally, a Governor is appointed for each state, but after the 7th Constitutional Amendment, 1956, one Governor can be appointed for more than one state.
, each of the four provinces has a Governor who is appointed by the President
. The governor is the representative of the president in their province and is the ceremonial head of the province whereas the chief minister
is the head of the provincial government. The governor exercises powers similar to the president's, in their respective province.
Papua New Guinea
In Papua New Guinea
, the leaders of the provinces have been known as governors since August 1995. Previously they were called premiers.
, the title gubernur
refers to the highest ranking executive of a provincial
government. The Governor and the Vice Governor are elected by a direct vote from the people as a couple, so the Governor is responsible to the provincial residents. The governor has a term of five years to work in office and can be re-elected for another single period. In case of death, disability, or resignation, the vice governor would stand in as acting governor for some time before being inaugurated as the permanent governor.
The elected Governor is inaugurated by the president
, or by the Indonesian minister of home affairs
on behalf of the president. In addition, the governor is the representative of central government in the province, and is responsible to the president. The governor's authority is regulated within the Law (Indonesian
) Number 32/2004 and the Governmental Ordinance (Indonesian
: Peraturan Pemerintah
) Number 19/2010.
Principally, the governor has the tasks and the authorities to lead governmental services in the province, based upon the policies that have been made together with the Provincial Parliament. The governor is not the superordinate of regents
, but he/she is only to guide, supervise, and coordinate the works of city/municipal and regency governments. In other parts, municipal and regency governments have the rights to manage each governance affairs based on autonomy principle and assistantship duties.
the title "Governor" (知事, chiji)
refers to the highest ranking executive of a Prefectural
Government. The Governor is elected by a direct vote from the people and had a fixed term of four years. There is no restriction on the number of terms a person may serve as governor. The governor holds considerable power within the prefecture, including the ability to veto ordinances that have been passed by the prefecture assembly, as well as control of the prefecture's budget and the power to dissolve the prefecture assembly. The governor can be subjected to a recall referendum. A total of one to four vice governors are appointed by the governor with the approval of the assembly. In the case of the governor's death, disability, or resignation, a vice governor would stand in as governor or acting governor.
In the Philippines
, the title "Governor" (Gobernador
or Punong Lalawigan
in Filipino), refers to the highest ranking executive of a province
. The governor is elected by a direct vote from the people and has a fixed term of three years. A governor can serve only up to a maximum of three consecutive terms. He may however be suspended by either the Ombudsman
or the President
, through the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government
. He may be removed by the President if found guilty of an administrative case or a criminal act during his tenure. He may be subjected to a recall vote
, but unlike a referendum, the voters elect the governor of their choice. In case of death, disability, resignation, forced removal, or suspension, the vice governor
, elected separately in the same election for governor, succeeds as governor, or acting governor, as the case may be.
The highest ranking executive of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
was called "regional governor". The regional governor is elected every three years, separately from a regional vice governor who replaces the regional governor. Bangsamoro
, its replacement, has the wa'lī
(Arabic for "governor") as its head of the region, and is elected by parliament
for a six year term.
, the title "Governor" (ผู้ว่าราชการ Phuwa Ratcha Gaan
in Thai) refers to the administrator of each Thai province
, who is appointed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The only exception is the specially governed district of Bangkok
, whose governor is elected by its population, thus making him or her equivalent to a mayor
Other modern countries in North America
In the United States
, the title "Governor" refers to the chief executive
of each state
or insular territory
. Governors retain sovereign police power, are not subordinate to the federal authorities except by laws provided by the enumerated powers
section of the federal constitution, and serve as the political and ceremonial head of the state. Nearly three-fourths of the states (36) hold gubernatorial elections in the same years as midterm elections
(2 years off set from presidential elections). Eleven states hold them in the same years as presidential elections (Vermont
and New Hampshire
hold elections every two years in every even numbered year), while the remaining five hold them in odd numbered years (two in the year after a presidential election, three in the year before).
In colonial North America, governors were chosen in a variety of ways, depending on how the colony was organized. In the crown colonies
of Great Britain, France, and Spain, the governor was chosen by the ruling monarch of the colonizing power, or his designees; in British colonies, the Board of Trade
was often the primary decision maker. Colonies based on a corporate charter, such as the Connecticut Colony
and the Massachusetts Bay Colony
, elected their own governors based on rules spelled out in the charter or other colonial legislation. In proprietary colonies
, such as the Province of Carolina
before it became a crown colony (and was divided into North
), governors were chosen by the Lords Proprietor
who controlled the colony. In the early years of the American Revolutionary War
, eleven of the Thirteen Colonies
evicted (with varying levels of violence) royal and proprietary governors. The other two colonies (Connecticut
and Rhode Island
) had corporate charters; Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull
was governor before and during the war period, while in Rhode Island, Governor Joseph Wanton
was removed from office in 1775 for failing to support the rebel war effort.
Before achieving statehood, many of the fifty states were territories
. Administered by the federal government, they had governors who were appointed by the President
and confirmed by the Senate
rather than elected by the resident population.
refers to the elected chief and head of each of the nation's
thirty one Free and Sovereign States
with the official Spanish
title being Gobernador
. Mexican governors are directly elected by the citizens of each state for a six-year term and cannot be re-elected.
Other modern countries in South America
This section needs expansion
. You can help by adding to it
. (May 2020)
Many of the South American
republics (such as Chile
) have provinces or states run by elected governors, with offices similar in nature to U.S. state governors.
Until the 1930 Revolution
, the heads of the Brazilian Provinces
, now called States
, were styled as (provincial/state) presidents (presidentes
). From 1930 to 1945, they were styled either governors (governadores
) or, when appointed by the federal government, intervenors (interventores
). From 1945 on, they have only been called governors.
As a generic term, Governor is used for various 'equivalent' officers governing part of a state or empire, rendering other official titles such as:
This also applies to non-western or antique culture
Other meanings of the word
The word governor
can also refer to an administrator or supervisor (individually or collectively, see Board of Governors
); the Governor of a national bank often holds ministerial rank.
- ^ "Penguin Random House". PenguinRandomhouse.com.
- ^ "Gubernatorial elections to return to Russia this autumn". Pravda.ru. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- ^ Duden; Definition of Landeshauptmann, in German. 
- ^ "Liu Weiping elected governor of Gansu province". Chinadaily.com.cn. 2011-01-18. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- ^ "Zhou Qiang re-elected governor of Hunan Province". Chinadaily.com.cn. 2008-01-24. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- ^ "Local Government in Asia and the Pacific – China". Unescap.org. 1997-07-01. Archived from the original on 2012-06-28. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
- ^ Zhiyue Bo (2007). China's elite politics: political transition and power balancing. Series on contemporary China. World Scientific. p. 385. ISBN 9789812700414.
- ^ "Appointment Of Persons To Important Posts". Malaysian Monarchy. Archived from the original on 2012-04-02. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- ^ "地方自治法". Archived from the original on 2018-02-09. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
Last edited on 19 May 2021, at 16:42
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