Johor Bahru (commonly referred to as JB) is the southernmost city in Malaysia. It is one of the largest cities in the country (2nd biggest) with more than 2.7 million inhabitants (including suburbs). The current megaproject Iskandar will according to experts transform Johor Bahru into the biggest financial center of Malaysia. The city receives about 16 million tourists annually. Johor is connected by two bridges with neighboring country Singapore. Over 300.000 inhabitants of Johor Bahru work in Singapore for many years because of better economical prospects. Vice versa many inhabitants of Singapore go to Johor Bahru to shop affordable at one of the many shopping malls. For Singaporeans Johor Bahru is actually a very cheap place to do shopping. Because of this many expats from Kuala Lumpur are currently relocating to Johor. The city is an important industrial, tourism and commercial hub for southern Malaysia and one of the biggest industrial centers of the country. The population growth rate of Johor Bahru is among the highest in Southeast Asia. Furthermore; the city is part of the Sijori Growth Triangle, which has recorded one of the highest growths in Southeast Asia over the last couple of years.
In the early 16th century, the Sultanate of Johor was founded by the Alauddin Riayat Shah II, the son of Mahmud Shah, the last Sultan of Melaka who fled from the invading Portuguese in Melaka. Johor sultanate was one of the two successor states of the Melaka empire. On Malacca’s defeat by the Portuguese in 1511, Alauddin Riayat Shah II established a monarchy in Johor, which posed a threat to the Portuguese. The Sultanate of Perak—established by Mahmud Shah’s other son, Muzaffar Shah I—was the other successor state of Malacca. During Johor’s peak, the whole of Pahang, present day Indonesian territories of the Riau archipelago, and part of Sumatra Island was under Johor’s rule.
A series of succession struggles were interspersed with strategic alliances struck with regional clans and foreign powers, which maintained Johor’s political and economic hold in the Straits. In competition with the Acehnese of northern Sumatra and the port-kingdom of Melaka under Portuguese rule, Johor engaged in prolonged warfare with their rivals, often striking alliances with friendly Malay states and with the Dutch. In 1641, Johor in co-operation with the Dutch succeeded in capturing Melaka. By 1660, Johor had become a flourishing entrepôt, although weakening and splintering of the empire in the late seventeenth and eighteenth century reduced its sovereignty.
In the 18th century, the Bugis of Sulawesi and the Minangkabau of Sumatra controlled the political powers in the Johor-Riau Empire. However, in the early 19th century, Malay and Bugis rivalry commanded the scene. In 1819, the Johor-Riau Empire was divided up between the British and the Dutch into the mainland Johor, controlled at first by the Sultan of Johor and then later his Temenggong, and the Sultanate of Riau-Lingga, controlled by the Bugis. In 1855, under the terms of a treaty between the British in Singapore and Sultan Ali of Johor, control of the state was formally ceded to Dato’ Temenggong Daing Ibrahim, with the exception of the Kesang area (Muar), which was handed over in 1877. Temenggong Ibrahim opened up Bandar Tanjung Puteri (later to become Johor’s present-day capital) in south Johor as a major town.
Temenggong Ibrahim was succeeded by his son, Dato’ Temenggong Abu Bakar, who later took the title Seri Maharaja Johor by Queen Victoria of England. In 1886, he was formally crowned the Sultan of Johor, thus usurping the original line of Sultans of Johor descended from the Sultanate of Melaka. Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor (1864–1895) implemented a state constitution, developed a British-style administration and constructed the Istana Besar, the official residence of the Sultan. For his achievements, Sultan Abu Bakar is known by the title “Father of Modern Johor”. The increased demand for black pepper and gambier in the nineteenth century lead to the opening up of farmlands to the influx of Chinese immigrants, which created Johor’s initial economic base. The Kangchu system was put in place with the first settlement of Kangkar Tebrau established in 1844. The decline of the Kangchu economy at the end of the 19th century coincided with the opening of the railway line connecting Johor Bahru and the Federated Malay States in 1909 and the emergence of rubber plantations throughout the state. Under the British Resident system, Sultan Ibrahim, Sultan Abu Bakar’s successor, was forced to accept a British adviser in 1904. D.G. Campbell was dispatched as the first British adviser to Johor. From the 1910s to the 1940s, Johor emerged as Malaya’s top rubber producing state, a position it has held until recently. Johor was also until recently the largest oil palm producer in Malaysia.
During World War II, Johor Bahru became the last city on the Malay peninsula to fall to the Japanese. Allied Forces, Australian, Malayan and Indian forces held out for four days in what was known as the Battle of Gemas, the General Yamashita Tomoyuki had his headquarters on top of Bukit Serene and coordinated the downfall of Singapore.
Johor gave birth to the Malay opposition that derailed the Malayan Union plan. Malays under Dato’ Onn Jaafar’s leadership formed the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) in Johor on 11 May 1946. (UMNO is currently the main component party of Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.) In 1948, Johor joined the Federation of Malaya, which gained Independence in 1957.
- Batu Pahat District
- Johor Bahru District
- Kluang District
- Kota Tinggi District
- Kulai District
- Mersing District
- Muar District
- Pontian District
- Segamat District
- Tangkak District