A governorate is an administrative division of a country. It is headed by a governor. As English-speaking nations tend to call regions administered by governors either states, provinces, or colonies, the term governorate is often used in translation from non-English-speaking administrations.

The most common usage is as a translation of the Arabic Muhafazah rarely Wilayah. It may also refer to the guberniya and general-gubernatorstvo of Imperial Russia or the 34 gobernaciones of Imperial Spain.


Arab countries

The term governorate is widely used in Arab countries to describe an administrative unit. Some governorates combine more than one wilayah; others closely follow traditional boundaries inherited from the Ottoman Empire's vilayet system.

With the exception of Tunisia, all translations into the term governorate originate in the Arabic word muhafazah.

Russian Empire

  • History of the administrative division of Russia
  • Guberniya and Category:Governorates of the Russian Empire

Congress Kingdom of Poland

Grand Duchy of Finland

Spanish Empire

In the Spanish Empire, the gobernaciones ("governorships" or "governorates") were an administrative division, roughly analogous to a province directly beneath the level of the audiencia or captaincy general, and the viceroy in areas directly under the viceroy's administration. The powers and duties of a governor were identical to a corregidor but a governor managed a larger or more prosperous area than the former.

Italian Empire

  • Governorates of Italian East Africa


In today's German states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, and North Rhine-Westphalia there are - and earlier in many more German states there were - sub-state administrative regions called in German: Regierungsbezirk, which is sometimes translated into English as governorate.[citation needed]

During the time of the Third Reich, a "General Government for the Occupied Polish Areas" (German: Generalgouvernement für die besetzten polnischen Gebiete) existed. The German (based on a traditional Prussian term) is sometimes translated as General Governorate.


During World War II, Romania administrated three governorates: Bessarabia Governorate, Bukovina Governorate and Transnistria Governorate.

Vatican City

Under the Fundamental Law of Vatican City State, the pope's executive authority for Vatican City is exercised by the Governorate for Vatican City State. The President of Vatican City's legislative body is ex officio the President of the Governorate. The other key officers of the Governorate are the General Secretary and the Vice General Secretary. All three officers are appointed by the pope for five-year terms.[1]


  1. ^ Pope John Paul II (November 26, 2000). "Fundamental Law of Vatican City State" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-01-23. 

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