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Peninsular Malaysia's Southernmost City

Located on the southernmost tip of Malaysia, Johor Bahru serves as the capital of the state of Johor and is one of the country’s biggest urban centres. With its population of 900,000 in the city, Johor Bahru is a city second in size only to Kuala Lumpur and is one of Malaysia’s three main urban areas, the other two being KL and Penang.


Located on one end of the Causeway, Johor Bahru borders Singapore and is the Malaysian state closest to the neighbouring country. Its proximity to Singapore results in Johor Bahru welcoming about 50% of Malaysia’s 22.5 million tourists annually through bridges and road links between the two countries, making it one of the most important tourism centres in Malaysia.

Johor is part of the original SIJORI Growth Triangle along with Singapore and Riau (Indonesia), the three cities forming one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the region. Although only recognized as a city relatively recently in 1994, Johor Bahru has since been recognized as an important transport, industrial and commercial hub of Malaysia.


Johor Bahru began as Tanjung Puteri, a small fishing village established by Temenggong Daing Ibrahim to be his administrative headquarters in 1855. His successor, Temenggong Abu Bakar (later Sultan) renamed the place Johor Bahru eleven years later, as well as turned the small village into a busy town.


Johor Bahru continued to develop. The 1970s and 1980s saw new towns and industrial areas being built around Johor Bahru, and the development helped Johor Bahru in expanding quickly. By 1994, Johor Bahru’s significance is finally recognized and the town is granted city status. Johor Bahru continues to grow with the considerable funds and attention granted by the government, especially after the introduction of the Iskandar Malaysia development plans to turn the area into an economic, social and development centre.

Johor Bahru in Modern Times


Although it is recognized as an important industrial and commercial hub in southern Malaysia, Johor Bahru is recognized in particular for its status as an important industrial centre. Among the city’s major industries include electronics, petrochemical refining and shipbuilding. It is said that many of the world’s top electronics- akers have at least one factory in Johor Bahru.


Many Singaporeans visit Johor Bahru for shopping and entertainment. That factor, combined with the large number of tourists entering Malaysia through Johor Bahru has allowed the city to experience a great commercial growth. Shopping complexes and districts are plentiful, and the retail scene of Johor Bahru is said to be disproportionate for a city of its size. Dining locations that cater to every budget from hawker stalls to fine dining restaurants can also be found throughout the city.

Despite being a commercial titan, Johor Bahru is said to hold little interest to a casual tourist other than those looking for a good shopping or dining experience. For those who find themselves in the city, however, do note that there still are a significant number of cultural and historical structures and places found around the city, with some over a hundred years old. Examples include the Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque (built in 1900), Roufo Old Chinese Temple (1870), Makam Diraja (Royal Mausoleum, 1895) and Tugu Peperangan (War Memorial, 1962).