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Johor Bahru, also spelled Johor Baharu, Johor Baru, ("Baru" means "new" and "Johor" means "Jewel" in Malay) or Johore Bahru and abbreviated as JB, is the capital city of Johormarker in southern Malaysiamarker. Johor Bahru is the southernmost city of the Eurasian mainland, and Pasir Pelangi, the royal village, is located within Johor Bahru city.

With a population of approximately 900,000 in the city, and over 1.8 million in its metropolitan area, it is the second largest urban area in the country after the national capital, Kuala Lumpurmarker and its associated Klang Valley region. The total population of the Singapore-Johor Bahru conurbation is 6.5 million, and part of the 7.8 million metropolitan area of the Sijori Growth Triangle, which is one of the highest in Southeast Asia. Johor Bahru is within walking distance from Singaporemarker, and receives 49.9% of the country's annual 22.5 million foreign tourists via its bridges and road links to Singapore. 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.


The city of Johor Bahru is located at . The city council administers the highly developed southern central coast of the metropolitan area, with a total area of 185 km². It is situated on the Straits of Johormarker (also known as the Straits of Tebrau), which separates Malaysiamarker and Singaporemarker. Metropolitan Johor Bahru occupies extensive coastal land consisting of ecologically rich swamp lands and important river systems such as Sungai Johor, Sungai Pulai and Sungai Tebrau.


Sultan Abu Bakar mosque at night

Johor Bahru was founded in 1855 as when the sovereign ruler of Johor, Temenggong Daing Ibrahim established his administrative headquarters here. It was then-known as "Tanjung Puteri", and was a small Malay fishing village. Temenggong Ibrahim renamed "Tanjung Puteri" in 1858, and son and his successor, Temenggong Abu Bakar (Sultan from 1885) renamed it as "Johor Bahru" on 1 January 1866. Johor Bahru quickly expanded into a town under Abu Bakar's direction. Many of the town's buildings were constructed during Abu Bakar's reign, notably the State Mosquemarker, Istana Besar and the Menteri Besar's residence, many of which were built by Wong Ah Fook, a Toisanesemarker-Chinese contractor who became a close patron of Abu Bakar. The town also saw an influx of Chinese immigrants settling in the town.

Under Sultan Ibrahim's reign, Johor Bahru continued to witness modest developments; the Malay Peninsula railway extension was completed in 1909, and the completion of the Causewaymarker in 1923 linked the railway and road systems between Singapore and Malay Peninsula. Johor Bahru witnessed a modest rate of development during the interwar period. The state secretariat building, Sultan Ibrahim Building was completed in 1940 as the British colonial government attempted to streamline the state's administration.

The Japanesemarker army invaded Johor Bahru on 31 January 1942 during the Battle of Malaya, and the Sultan's residence at Istana Bukit Serene became the military's preparatory base for their conquest of Singaporemarker. Shortly after the war ended in 1946, Johor Bahru became a hotspot for Malay nationalism in the state. A local politician, later to become the Menteri Besar of Johor, Onn Jaafar formed the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) in May 1946 after the Malays expressed widespread disenchantment with the British government for granting lax citizenship laws to non-Malays.

Johor Bahru expanded in size from the 1960s onwards, and new townships and industrial estates were built in villages and hamlets such as Tebraumarker and Plentongmarker that were north and east of Johor Bahru during the 1970s and 1980s. By the early 1990s, Johor Bahru had considerably expanded in size, and was officially granted recognition as a city on 1 January 1994. Johor Bahru's city council, Majlis Bandaraya Johor Bahru (MBJB) was formed and the Dataran Bandaraya Johor Bahru was constructed to commemorate this event.

A Central business district was developed in the centre of the city from the mid-1990s in the area around Jalan Wong Ah Fook and the Johor-Singapore Causewaymarker. The state and federal government channelled considerable amount of funds for the development of the city, particularly more so after 2006, when the Iskandar Malaysia development region blueprint was formalised.


The Johor Bahru metropolitan area runs across several districts and is jointly managed by the following local councils:

Johor Bahru District:

Pontian District:

Kota Tinggi District:

In announcing the 9th Malaysia Plan in May 2006, the area has been identified as a focus development area of national priority, which will see government investment of over RM12 billion (Ringgit) between 2006 and 2010.



The District of Johor Bahru's population was around 1 200 000 (2000 census including non citizens) with current population in 2008 to be in the region of 1.7 million. It consists of 44% Malay, 41.5% Chinese, 9.1% Indian and 5.4% of other minorities.

The Chinese community is represented by several dialect groups, Teochewmarker, Hakka, Hokkien, Cantonese, Hainanese and Hokchew (Foochow). are the five major dialect groups in Johor Bahru. A small, significant minority of Hokchew/Foochow does exist. Teochew was the lingua franca of the Chinese community until the 1970s and a large proportion of the Chinese trace their ancestry back to Chaozhoumarker. Economic development from the 1970s has brought many Chinese from other parts of the state to resttle in Johor and were generally from other dialect groups.

The Indianmarker community consists of Tamils, Malayalees, Telugus, Punjabis and other smaller groups and include a large number of migrants from states like Perakmarker, Selangormarker, Negeri Sembilanmarker, Penangmarker, Kedahmarker etc., lured by the availability of jobs in manufacturing and services both in Johor Bahru and Singaporemarker. The Indian community is one of the fastest growing ethnic groups with their percentage of the population increasing at every census. The increasing number of Hindu temples being built and the establishment of more and restaurants, retail and small businesses in the city centre and many of the new residential areas is a reflection of this trend.

Crime rates

While Johor Bahru has grown and developed tremendously since Malaysia's Independence in 1957, the social development did not match its economic development. Crime rates have increased over the years, from petty theft to robbery with assaults. Public transportation is adequate to accommodate the needs of its 800,000-plus inhabitants although its roads are getting increasingly congested as dozens of new suburban residential areas develop.

However all these issues are being addressed under the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) masterplan. New road and expressway construction, multi-modal public transportation, tackling crime and overall socio-economic development are going to change the current landscape dramatically.

The Chief Police of Johor City and the family of political secretary of Deputy Prime Minister were the latest victims attacked by the thieves.


As one of the three main urban centres on the peninsular Malaysia (Kuala Lumpurmarker and Penangmarker being the other two), Johor Bahru is an important industrial, logistical and commercial centre. Its major industries include electronics, resource and petrochemical refinery and shipbuilding.

Johor Bahru is often thought of as Singapore's hinterland, similar to what Shenzhenmarker is to Hong Kongmarker. The presence of Singapore-owned companies and tourists are significant. Johor Bahru's many shopping complexes cater to tourists from Singapore who visit the city for shopping and entertainment, taking advantage of the stronger Singapore dollar. As such, Johor Bahru's retail scene is highly developed for a city of its size. The main shopping districts are located within Johor Bahru city, with a number of large shopping malls located in the suburbs.

The heavy industrial areas are Pasir Gudang and Tanjung Langsatmarker, located east of the metropolitan area. They contain clusters of refineries, chemical processing plants, and shipbuilding factories. Light to medium industrial areas are mainly located north and north-west of the metropolitan area in Tebraumarker, Tampoi, Senaimarker, Skudaimarker and Kulaimarker.

Johor Bahru enjoys a close economic relationship with Singapore. A large number of residents in Johor Bahru work in Singapore due to higher salaries for the same jobs in Malaysia, partially because of the stronger Singapore Dollar (roughly 1 Singapore Dollar to 2.43 Malaysian Ringgit as of Sept 2009). For the same reason, many Singaporeans visit Johor Bahru for shopping, entertainment and dining, or live there. Many Singaporeans own property, businesses and factories in Johor Bahru. It is estimated that 300,000 Malaysians work in the republic and as many as 150,000 commute daily to work in Singaporemarker. The daily severe traffic jams at the Woodlands and Tuas Immigration Checkpoints reflects the sheer volume of people working in the republic as well as the large number of Singaporeans entering Johor Bahru.

Under the Iskandar Development Region masterplan, Johor Bahru is expected to grow to a large urban area of over 3 million residents by 2025, second in Malaysia only to the Klang Valley. The growth is also expected to spill over into the neighbouring districts of Pontian and Kota Tinggimarker, creating an urban area that would be even larger than that envisaged in the masterplan, possibly over five times the size of Singapore.

Mamee Double-Decker, a snack food company, has its registered office in Johor Bahru.


Internal Network

Picture showing the main road in the Johor Bahru City Centre (2009)

Johor Bahru Central Business District (CBD) or Daerah Sentral Johor Bahru, is located on the southern tip of the metropolitan area. Two major highways link the CBD to outlying suburbs, with Tebrau Highway linking the city to the north-east and Tun Abdul Razak Highway/Senai-Skudai Highway linking it to the north-west. Pasir Gudang Highway and the connecting Johor Bahru Parkway crosses Tebrau Highway and TAR Highway about midway and serves as the middle ring road of the metropolitan area.

The Johor Bahru Inner Ring Road, which connects with Sultan Iskandar customs complex, aids in controlling the traffic in and around the CBD.

Intercity Network

Access to the national expressway system is possible via the North-South Expressway, with entry-exit points located strategically within the metropolitan area.

The Causewaymarker links the city to the Singaporemarker with a six-lane road and a railway line via the Sultan Iskandar Complex constructed in 2008. Whereas , the Second Link Expresswaymarker located west of the metropolitan area was constructed in 1997 to help alleviate the congested Causeway. It is linked directly to Johor Bahru Parkway and North-South Expressway.

Airport and Seaports

Johor Bahru is well served with strong connectivity to regional and international centres: The Senai International Airport, located north-west of the metropolitan area, serves regional and national airlines. It is one of the hubs of AirAsia. To the west of the metropolitan area in Nusajayamarker is the Port of Tanjung Pelepas and currently ranks as Malaysia's biggest transshipment hub.

Johor Port, otherwise known as the Pasir Gudang 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 seaports as Johor is home to a large number of major commercial plantations and Pasir Gudang is home to majority of Malaysia resources refineries. In addition, Singapore's world-renowned seaports and airport also caters to Johor Bahru's transportation/logistics need, as they are both less than an hour's drive from the city.

Radio Stations

Johor Bahru is also home to three radio stations. Best 104 is the country's first private radio station, Johor FM is a government-owned regional station, and FMJB, is another government-owned station covering only the city.

Urban development

A number of urban development projects in the city centre with the aim of making the city centre more pedestrian friendly has recently been completed. Among these projects are:
  • Pedestrianisation of Jalan Meldrum by narrowing the two-way street into a single-lane street with the accompanying pedestrian mall with outdoor cafe kiosks.
  • Pedestrianisation of the area around OCBC Bank and City Council building.
  • The construction of Legaran Segget, or Segget Walk.
  • The construction of Laman Tun Sri Lanang, a small park in the heart of the city.

Monorail Project

Among future plans in Johor Bahru are the construction of a monorail using Maglev technology to link JB Sentral to Carrefour Pandan or ÆON Tebrau City Shopping Centremarker and from JB central to Danga Bay and Skudai.

Similar to the KL Monorail project where all the structures are elevated, the project will have eight stations between Johor Sentral, located next to the causeway, and ÆON Tebrau City near the Pandan Hospital.

Jalur Mudra expects the Johor monorail to ferry some 98,000 passengers daily with tickets priced between RM1.50 and RM2.60 for the 13-minute ride between Johor Sentral and ÆON Tebrau City.

Sister cities

See also



  • Guinness, Patrick, On the Margin of Capitalism: People and Development in Mukim Plentong, Johor, Malaysia, Oxford University Press, 1992, ISBN 0195885562
  • Historical Society, Universiti Malayamarker, Jernal Sejarah, 1972
  • Lim, Pui Huen, Wong Ah Fook: Immigrant, Builder and Entrepreneur, Times Edition, 2002, ISBN 9812323694
  • Oakley, Mat; Brown, Joshua Samuel, Lonely Planet Singapore City Guide, Lonely Planet, 2009, ISBN 1741046645
  • Winstedt, R. O, A History of Johore (1365–1941), (M.B.R.A.S. Reprints, 6.) Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1992, ISBN 9839961462

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