Johor Bahru

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This article is about a city in Johor, Malaysia. For the administrative district, see Johor Bahru District.
Johor Bahru
Tanjung Puteri/Iskandar Puteri
Other transcription(s)
 • Jawi جوهر بهرو
 • Simplified Chinese 新山
 • Tamil ஜொகூர் பாரு
Clockwise from top: Night view of Johor Bahru, Sultan Ibrahim Building, Tebrau Highway and Johor–Singapore Causeway.
Clockwise from top:
Night view of Johor Bahru, Sultan Ibrahim Building, Tebrau Highway and Johor–Singapore Causeway.
Flag of Johor Bahru
Official logo of Johor Bahru
Nickname(s): JB,
Bandaraya Selatan (Southern City)
Motto: Berkhidmat, Berbudaya, Berwawasan
(English: "Servicing, Cultured, Visionary")
Johor Bahru is located in Peninsular Malaysia
Johor Bahru
Johor Bahru
Location of Johor Bahru in Peninsular Malaysia
Johor Bahru is located in Malaysia
Johor Bahru
Johor Bahru
Location of Johor Bahru in Malaysia
Coordinates: 1°29′N 103°44′E / 1.483°N 103.733°E / 1.483; 103.733Coordinates: 1°29′N 103°44′E / 1.483°N 103.733°E / 1.483; 103.733
Country  Malaysia
State  Johor
Administrative areas
Founded by Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim 10 March 1855
(as Tanjung Puteri)
Granted city status 1 January 1994
 • Mayor Haji Abdul Rahman Mohamed Dewam
 • Council Johor Bahru City Council
 • City 647.63 km2 (250.05 sq mi)
Elevation 36.88 m (121.00 ft)
Population (2010)
 • City 497,097
 • Metro 1,805,000
 • Demonym Orang JB / JB-ites / JB-ians
Time zone MST (UTC+8)
 • Summer (DST) Not observed (UTC+8)
Area code(s) 07

Johor Bahru (Malaysian pronunciation: [ˈjohorˈbahru], Jawi: جوهر بهرو‎, Chinese: 新山; pinyin: xin shan, Tamil: ஜொகூர் பாரு), formerly known as Tanjung Puteri and Iskandar Puteri, is the capital of the state of Johor, located in Peninsular Malaysia. Johor Bahru has a population of 497,097[1] and, including the areas of Iskandar Malaysia. The Malaysia's second largest city proper has an estimated population of 1,805,000.[2][3]

Johor Bahru became the main shopping attraction for tourists from Indonesia as well Singapore as item price in the city sold much cheaper than in the neighbouring Singapore.[4][5][6]


The present area of Johor Bahru was originally known as Tanjung Puteri, which is a fishing village of the Malays located near Singapore. Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim then renamed Tanjung Puteri to Iskandar Puteri once he arrived to the area in 1858 after acquiring the territory from Sultan Ali;[7] before been renamed to Johor Bahru by Sultan Abu Bakar after his deaths.[8] The British preferred to spelled the town as Johore Bahru or Johore Bharu,[9] but the current accepted western spelling are Johor Bahru as "Johore" are only spelt "Johor" (without the letter "e" at the end of the word) in Malay language.[10][11] Today, the present-day city was also spelled as Johor Baru or Johor Baharu.[12][13]

The city was also once known as Little Swatow (Shantou) by the Chinese community in Johor Bahru as most of Johor Bahru Chinese are Teochew people whose ancestry are come from Shantou, China in the mid 1800s, during the reign of Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim.[14]


Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim, founder of Tanjung Puteri, which he renamed Iskandar Puteri (present-day Johor Bahru).

Due to a dispute between the Malays and Bugis, the Johor-Riau Empire was already split in 1819 with the mainland Johor Sultanate came under the control of Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim while the Riau-Lingga Sultanate under the Bugis.[15] The Temenggong has a dream to built a new administration centre for the Johor Sultanate to create a dynasty under the entity of Temenggong.[16] As the Temenggong already maintaining a close relationship with British and the British had intention to control over trade activities in Singapore; in 10 March 1855, a treaty was signed between Sultan Ali and Temenggong Ibrahim in Singapore.[17] According to the treaty, Ali will be crowned as the Sultan of Johor and receiving $5,000 (Spanish dollar) with an allowance of $500 per month.[18]

But as a return, Ali must ceded the sovereignty of the territory of Johor (except Kesang of Muar which will be the only territory under his control) to Temenggong Ibrahim.[15][18] When agreement was reached on both sides with Temenggong acquiring the territory, he start to rename the place as Iskandar Puteri and administer it from Telok Blangah in Singapore.[8] As the area was still an undeveloped jungle, temenggong encouraged the migration of Chinese and Javanese to clear the land and start to develop Johor agriculture economy.[19] The Chinese plant the area with black pepper along with gambier, while the Javanese dug parit or canal to drain the waters in the land, built roads and plant coconuts.[20] During this time, a Chinese businessman, pepper and gambier cultivators, Wong Ah Fook arrived as well with the introduction of Kangchu and Javanese Labour contract systems by the Chinese and Javanese communities.[19][21][22] After Temenggong deaths on 31 January 1862, the town was renamed to Johor Bahru and the administration position was succeeded by his son, Abu Bakar with the administration centre in Telok Blangah been moved to the area on 1899.[8]

The Royal Palace building was built during the reign of Sultan Abu Bakar with the aid of Wong Ah Fook.

At the first stage of Abu Bakar administration, the British only recognised him as a Maharaja rather than a Sultan. It was only in 1855, the British Colonial Office start to recognise his status as a Sultan after he met Queen Victoria.[23] He managed to regain Kesang territory for Johor after a civil war with the aid of British forces and he boost the town infrastructures and Johor agricultural economy.[23][24] Infrastructures such as the State Mosque and Royal Palace was built with the aid of Wong Ah Fook who have became a close patron for the Sultan since his migration during Temenggong reign.[25] As the Johor-British relationship have became very close, he also set-up his administration under a British-style and implemented a constitution known as Undang-undang Tubuh Negeri Johor (Johor State Constitution).[15][23] Although the British have long became the adviser for the Sultanate of Johor, the Sultanate never came under direct colonial control.[26] It was only effectively came under the control when the status of "adviser" was elevated to the level similar to that of a Resident in the Federated Malay States (FMS) during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim in 1904.[27] While Johor Bahru continued to develop; the Malay Peninsula railway extension was completed in 1909,[28] and the completion of a causeway in 1923 linked the railway and road systems between Singapore and Malay Peninsula.[29] Johor Bahru developed at a modest rate between the First and Second World Wars. The secretariat building—Sultan Ibrahim Building—was completed in 1940 as the British colonial government attempted to streamline the state's administration.[30]

Japanese troops crouch in the street of Johor Bahru in their final stages of Battle of Malaya to conquest Singapore, image taken on 31 January 1942.

The continuous development of Johor Bahru was however halted when the Japanese under General Tomoyuki Yamashita invaded the town on 31 January 1942. As the Japanese had reached northwest Johor by 15 January, they easily captured Johor major towns such of Batu Pahat, Yong Peng, Kluang and Ayer Hitam.[31] The British and other Commonwealth forces were forced to retreat towards Johor Bahru but with a further series of bombing by the Japanese on 29 January, the British decide to retreat to Singapore and blown up the causeway in the next day as a final attempt to stop the Japanese advancement in British Malaya.[31] The Japanese then use the Sultan's residence of Istana Bukit Serene located in the town as their main temporary base for their future initial plans to conquest Singapore while waiting to reconnect the causeway.[32][33] The reason the Japanese choose the palace as their main base are due to they already knew the British would not dare to attack as it would harm their close relationship with Johor.[31]

A view of the causeway, after been blown up by Allied forces as a final decision to counter the Japanese advancement.

Within less than a month, the Japanese already manage to repaired the causeway and easily invading the whole Singapore island.[34] Soon after the war ended in 1946, the town became the main hotspot for Malay nationalism in Malaya. Onn Jaafar, a local Malay politician who later became the Menteri Besar of Johor, formed the United Malay National Organisation party in 11 May 1946 when the Malays expressed their widespread disenchantment over the British government action for granting citizenship laws to non-Malays in the proposed states of Malayan Union.[35][36] An agreement over the policy was then reached in the town with Malays agreed with the dominance of economy by the non-Malays while the Malays dominance in political matters was agreed by non-Malays.[37] Racial conflict between the Malay and non-Malays especially the Chinese was however always been flared since the time of Malayan Emergency.[38]

When the Federation of Malaya, together with North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore formed the Federation of Malaysia in 1963,[39] Johor Bahru continue become the state capital and more development was done with the town expanded its size and more new townships and industrial estates were built. During the Indonesian confrontation, the impact did not directly affect Johor Bahru as the main Indonesian landing point in Johor was in Labis.[40] There is only one active Indonesian spy organisation in the town known as Gerakan Ekonomi Melayu Indonesia (GEMI) frequently engaging relations with Indonesian communities living there to contribute information for Indonesian commandos until the bombing of the MacDonald House in Singapore.[41][note 1] By the early 1990s, the town had considerably expanded in size, and was officially granted a city status on 1 January 1994.[42] Johor Bahru City Council was formed and the city's current main square, Dataran Bandaraya Johor Bahru, was constructed to commemorate the event. A central business district was developed in the centre of the city from the mid-1990s in the area around Wong Ah Fook Street and the Johor–Singapore Causeway. The state and federal government channelled considerable funds for the development of the city—particularly more so after 2006, when the Iskandar Malaysia was formed.[43][44]

Capital city[edit]

As the capital city of Johor, the city plays an important role in the economic welfare of the population of the entire state. There are one members of parliament (MPs) representing the one parliamentary constituency in the city: Johor Bahru (P.160). The city also elects two representatives to the state legislature from the state assembly districts of Tanjong Puteri and Stulang.[45]

Local authority and city definition[edit]

The city is administered by the Johor Bahru City Council (Majlis Perbandaran Johor Bahru). The current mayor of Johor Bahru is Dato' Haji Abdul Rahman Mohamed Dewam,[46] who took over from Dato' Haji Ismail Karim on 2014. The city obtained city status on 1 January 1994.[42]

The area under the jurisdiction of the Johor Bahru City Council are Central District, Kangkar Tebrau, Kempas, Larkin, Majidee, Maju Jaya, Mount Austin, Pandan, Pasir Pelangi, Pelangi, Permas Jaya, Rinting, Tampoi, Tasek Utara and Tebrau.[47] While the Johor Bahru metropolitan areas include the area under the jurisdiction of Johor Bahru Tengah Municipal Council, Kulai Municipal Council and Pasir Gudang Municipal Council with a total of 2,217 square kilometres.[48]


Dark clouds over Johor Bahru, the city features an equatorial climate.


Johor Bahru features an equatorial climate with consistent temperatures, considerable amount of rain and high humidity throughout the course of the year.[49][50] Temperature ranges from 25.5 °C (77.9 °F) to 27.8 °C (82.0 °F) with an annual rainfall around 2,000 millimetres which been received from November until February.[51]

Climate data for Johor Bahru (1974–2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 31.0
Average low °C (°F) 21.9
Average rainfall mm (inches) 162.6
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 11 9 13 15 15 12 13 13 13 16 17 15 162
Source: World Meteorological Organisation[52]


Although there is no official demonyms to describe the people of Johor Bahru. A simple way to describe the people of the city is "orang JB", where orang means "person" or "people" in Malay. The terms "J.B-ites" and "J.B-ians" have also been used to a limited extent. People from Johor are called Johoreans.[53]

Ethnicity and religion[edit]

Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque, the main mosque in the city.
The Johor Bahru Old Chinese Temple was built by the first Chinese pioneers.

The Malaysian Census in 2010 reported the population of Johor Bahru was at 497,097.[54] The city's population today is a mixture of three main races of Malays, Chinese and Indian along with other bumiputras. Malays become the majority with 240,323, followed by Chinese (172,609), Indian (33,319) and others (2,957).[54] Non-Malaysian citizens form a population of 42,585.[54] Most of the Malays are chiefly descended from Riau Malay and Javanese stock.[55] The Chinese mainly comprise of Teochew, Hainanese and Hakka,[14][56] while the Indian community mainly consists of Tamils and Telugus.[57] The Malays are Muslims, the Chinese are either Buddhist or Christians whilst the Indian are mostly Hindus. A small numbers of secularists also existed.


The people of Johor Bahru mainly speak Malay. The Chinese community is represented by several dialect groups: Teochew, Hainanese, Hakka, Hokkien, Cantonese, Fuzhou and Hokchia (Fuqing) are the various dialect groups represented in Johor Bahru.[31][58] Teochew is the main dialect for the Chinese community as large proportion of the Chinese trace their ancestry from the Chaoshan region. Further economic development since 1800s brought more people of Chinese ancestry, especially those from other dialect groups to resettle in Johor.[59] The Indian community mainly speaks of Tamil and Telugu.


Johor Bahru as the economic centre of Johor.

Johor Bahru is one of the fastest-growing city in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur.[4] Beside its specific location in the Indonesia–Malaysia–Singapore Growth Triangle, it become the main industrial and commercial centre for Johor. Tertiary-based industry dominate the economy with thousands of Singaporeans along with Indonesians and other international tourists visiting the city.[4][5][6] It is the centre of financial services, commerce and retail, arts and culture, hospitality, urban tourism, plastic manufacturing, electrical and electronics and food processing.[60] The city enjoys a very close economic relationship with Singapore as many Singaporeans frequently visit for shopping, entertainment, and dining which increase the city income with the stronger of Singapore dollar, as well with some of them have choose to live in the city.[61] Due to this, Johor Bahru's retail scene was continuously developed to meet the needs. The main shopping districts are located within the city, with a number of large shopping malls located in the suburbs. In the other side, a large numbers of the city residents are work in Singapore, where the salaries are higher than in Malaysia.[62][63]

The presence of Singapore and Chinese-owned companies were also significant,[4][64][65] with China became the fifth largest investor in Iskandar Malaysia after Singapore, United States, Spain and Japan as of September 2014.[66] In 2014, the sudden change of weekend rest days to Friday and Saturday from Saturday and Sunday by the Sultan of Johor has a little impact to the city economy especially in business but boosting the tourism industry as the holiday will let it to start open earlier on Sunday which lure more tourist from Singapore.[67] Johor Bahru is also the place where numerous conferences, congress and trade fairs is hosted, such as the Eastern Regional Organisation for Planning and Housing and World Islamic Economic Forum.[68][69] Beside that, the city is known as the first in Malaysia which practising low-carbon economy.[70]



The Tebrau Highway linking Kota Tinggi with the city centre.

The internal roads linking different parts of the city are mostly state roads constructed and maintained by the state's Public Works Department. Two major highways linking the Johor Bahru Central Business District to outlying suburbs such as Tebrau Highway in the northeast and Skudai Highway in the northwest.[60] Pasir Gudang Highway and the connecting Johor Bahru Parkway cross Tebrau Highway and Skudai Highway, which serve as the middle ring road of the metropolitan area. The Johor Bahru Inner Ring Road, which connects with the Sultan Iskandar customs complex, aids in controlling the traffic in and around the central business district.[60]

Johor Bahru Sentral railway station, the city main train station.

Access to the national expressway is through North-South Expressway. The Johor-Singapore Causeway links the city to Woodlands, Singapore with a six-lane road and a railway line terminating at the Southern Integrated Gateway.[60] The Malaysia-Singapore Second Link, located west of the metropolitan area, was constructed in 1997 to alleviate congestion on the Causeway. It is linked directly to the Second Link Expressway, Johor Bahru Parkway, the railway station, and the North-South Expressway.[71] Further expansion of other major highways in the city were currently in the process.[72]

Public transportation[edit]

The Larkin Sentral serves bus services to other cities and towns in West Malaysia, southern Thailand and Singapore.

Larkin Sentral, located 5 kilometres northwest of the city centre has direct bus services to and from many destinations in West Malaysia, southern Thailand and Singapore.[73] While the Johor Bahru Sentral railway station serves train services to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.[74]


The city only airport, Senai International Airport is located about 32 kilometres north-west of the city centre.[71] Five airlines of AirAsia, Firefly, Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air and Xpress Air provide flights internationally and domestically.


Johor Port is located on the eastern side of the metropolitan area in the industrial area of Pasir Gudang. It is the country's most important commodity and mineral resources seaport, as Johor is home to a large number of major commercial plantations, and Pasir Gudang is home to a majority of Malaysia's resources refineries.[75] In the west side of the metropolitan area, the Port of Tanjung Pelepas, which ranks as Malaysia’s largest container port since 2004 is ranked as the 19th busiest container ports in the world as of 2013. Singapore's seaports serve Johor Bahru's transportation or logistics needs as they are less than an hour's drive from the city. Boat services also available to ports in Sumatra.[71]

Other utilities[edit]

Courts of law and legal enforcement[edit]

The city high court complex is located along Dato' Onn Road.[76] The Sessions and Magistrate Courts is located in Ayer Molek Road,[76] while another court for the Sharia law is located in Abu Bakar Road.[77] The Johor Police Contingent Headquarters is located in Tebrau Road.[78] There are two district headquarters in the city, the Johor Bahru North District police headquarters located in Skudai, while the Johor Bahru South District headquarters is located in Meldrum Road. Both also operate as police stations. There is around eleven police stations and seven police substations (Pondok Polis) in the south district while five police stations is located in the north district with six police substations. The city's north district traffic police headquarters is located along Tebrau Road while the south district is in Skudai.[79][80]

There is one main prison located in the city along the road of Ayer Molek, but have since been closed down on 9 December 2005.[81][82] Temporary lock-ups or prison cells are available in most police stations around the city.



University / College[edit]

High School[edit]



Tourism is one of the most important factors for Johor Bahru's economic growth. Johor Bahru is easily reached from Singapore, and receives 49.9 percent of the country's annual 22.5 million foreign tourists via its bridges and road links to Singapore.[citation needed]

Further information: Johor Bahru landmarks

Theme Park[edit]

  • Legoland Malaysia is a theme park that has opened in Nusajaya, Johor, Malaysia on 15 September 2012 with over 40 interactive rides, shows and attractions. It is the first Legoland theme park in Asia upon its establishment.
  • Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park [83] is a 4-level family theme park with mixed of hotel, retail and entertainment complex. Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park is opening mid-November 2012.[84]



The mainstream newspapers in Johor include English dailies: The Star, New Straits Times, The Sun, The Edge, The Malaysian Reserve and The Malay Mail; Malay dailies: Berita Harian, Utusan Malaysia, Harian Metro and Kosmo!; Chinese dailies: Kwong Wah Yit Poh, Sin Chew Daily, China Press, Nanyang Siang Pau and Oriental Daily News; and Tamil dailies such: Tamil Nesan, Malaysia Nanban and Makkal Osai. All of them are in national circulation.[citation needed]

Singaporean newspapers are restricted in Malaysia for censorship purposes. Newspapers affected include English dailies: The Straits Times, Today, The New Paper, Business Times, Good Paper and Tabla!; Malay dailies: Berita Harian and Berita Minggu; Chinese dailies: zbCOMMA, Lianhe Zaobao, Lianhe Wanbao, My Paper, Shin Min Daily News and Thumbs Up; and Tamil dailies: Tamil Murasu.[citation needed]


Johor Bahru hosts two football clubs that plays in M-League. Football is the most popular sport in Johor Bahru. Johor Darul Takzim and Johor FA are well-known football clubs in Malaysia. They are major competitors in both the M-League.

There are several public football stadiums in Johor Bahru:


Johor Bahru has a private radio station; (Best.FM), and government radio RTM; (Johor.FM).

International relations[edit]

Several countries have set up their consulates in Johor Bahru, including Indonesia[85] and Singapore.[86][87]

Sister cities[edit]

Johor Bahru currently has six sister cities:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Another early attack to destabilise Malaysia was done with the murder of Malay trishaw in Singapore that led to the racial conflict between Malay and Chinese there. At the first stage of the conflict, it was alleged the murder was done by a Chinese but this was however turned down when further investigation revealed the murder was actually done by Indonesian agents who had infiltrate Singapore in an attempt to weakening the unity of race there during the state was still part of Malaysia. (Drysdale, Halim and Jamie)


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