A governor 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, ''governor'' may be the title of the 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, largely ceremonial power, while others have complete power over the entire government.
The title ''Governor'' is less common in parliamentary systems such as in some European nations and many of their former colonies, which use titles such as ''President of the Regional Council'' in France, ''President of the Regional Junta'' (commonly called ''Governatore'' in recent years) in Italy and ''Ministerpräsident'' in Germany, where in some states there are governorates ((ドイツ語:Regierungsbezirke)) as sub-state administrative regions. Other countries using different titles for sub-national units include Mexico, United States and Switzerland.
Historically, the title can also apply to 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.
There can also be non-political governors: high-ranking officials in private or similar governance such as commercial and non-profit management, styled governor(s), who simply ''govern'' an institution, such as a corporation or a bank. For example, in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries there are prison governors ("wardens" in the United States), school governors and bank governors.
The adjective pertaining to a governor is ''gubernatorial'', from the Latin root ''gubernare''.〔(The Mavens' Word of the Day )〕 The historical female form is ''governess'', though female officials are referred to by the gender-neutral form governor (without the gender specific suffix) of the noun to avoid confusion with other meanings of the term.
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 use in describing 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.
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