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The Malay states are a group of nine states of Malaysia (all located in West Malaysia) which have hereditary Rulers. In practice these Rulers, known as Sultans (or Raja and Yang di-Pertuan Besar in Perlis and Negeri Sembilan respectively), are figureheads, and follow the principles of constitutional monarchy.
Before the formation of the Malayan Union in 1946, the Malay states were divided into the Federated Malay States (under a British High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur) and the Unfederated Malay States, which each had a British Resident Commissioner. The Federated Malay States comprised Perak, Selangor, Pahang and Negeri Sembilan while the Unfederated Malay States were Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu and Johore.
The Malay states are to be distinguished from the States of Malaya, which refers to the states of West Malaysia, including the two former British settlements of Penang and Malacca which are headed by titular Governors (Yang di-Pertua Negeri) appointed by the King (Yang di-Pertuan Agong) of Malaysia.
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