A Governor is an official who heads the government of a colony, state or other sub-national state unit.

Table of contents
1 British Empire and Commonwealth
2 United States
3 Other countries

British Empire and Commonwealth

A governor was originally an official appointed by the English monarch to oversee one of his colonies. Because of the different constitutional histories of the various former colonies of the United Kingdom, the name now refers to officials with differing amounts of power.

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In Australia, each state has a Governor as its formal head. In theory state Governors are appointed by the Queen and act as her representative. In practice they are always appointed on the advice of the state Premier and play a purely ceremonial role. State Governors have emergency reserve powers but these are rarely used. The Territories of Australia have Administrators

The difference in terminology between the Australian state Governors and the Canadian provincial Lieutenant Governors is significant. In the Australian case, the Governor nominally derives power directly from the monarch and is in practice nominated by the Premier of a state. In the Canadian case, the Lieutenant Governor nominally is appointed by the Governor-General and in practice is named by the federal Prime Minister.

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In India each state has a ceremonial Governor appointed by the President of India.


In Malaysia the states of Penang, Malacca, Sabah and Sarawak each have a ceremonial Governor or Yang di-Pertua Negeri appointed by the King or Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia.

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). In some minor overseas territories there is instead of a Governor an Administrator or Commissioner

United States

In the United States, the title Governor refers to the chief executive of each state. In all states, the individual is directly elected and has considerable practical powers, though this is moderated by the state legislature and in some cases by other elected executive officials. In colonial America, the governor was the representative of the monarch who exercised executive power. During the American Revolutionary War, the royal governors were all expelled, but the name was retained to denote the new elected official.

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Other countries

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A governor is also a class of device. See Governor (device).