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 or provinces, 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. It may also refer to the guberniya and general-gubernatorstvo of Imperial Russia or the 34 gobernaciones of Imperial Spain.
The term governorate is widely used in Arab countries to describe an administrative unit. Some governorates combine more than one Muhafazah; 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.
In the Portuguese Empire, a governorate general (Portuguese: governo-geral) were a colonial administration. They usually were created in order to be a centralized government over smaller colonies or territories of the Portuguese Empire.
Governorate Generals of the Portuguese Empire:
Main article: Governorates of the 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.
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 Regierungsbezirk, which is sometimes translated into English as governorate.
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: the Bessarabia Governorate, the Bukovina Governorate and the Transnistria Governorate.
Main article: Administrative divisions of Ukraine (1918–1925)
When Ukraine claimed autonomy in 1917 and then independence from Russia in 1918, it inherited the imperial subdivision of its land with nine governorates, two okruhas, and three cities with special status. Each governorate (Ukrainian huberniia) was subdivided by the smaller unit of county (povit) and still smaller volost.
By the end of the Soviet-Ukrainian war in 1920, the Soviets had made them part of the Ukrainian SSR. Soviet Ukraine was reorganized into twelve governorates, which were reduced to nine in 1922, and then replaced with okruhas in 1925.
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.