Friday, 20 March 2009

Johor Bahru

Johor Bahru, also spelled Johor Baharu, Johor Baru, ("Baru" means "new" in Malay) or Johore Bahru and abbreviated as JB, is the capital city of Johor in southern Malaysia. 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 Lumpur and its associated Klang Valley region. Johor Bahru also has a population of 6.6 million in the Singapore-Johor Bahru conurbation, which is one of the highest in Southeast Asia. It is within walking distance fromSingapore, and receives more than 60% of the country's annual 16 million foreign tourists via its bridges and road links to Singapore. The city is an important industrial, tourism and commercial hub for southern Malaysia. The population growth rate of Johor Bahru is also among the highest in Malaysia. Johor Bahru also has a highly developed industrial base which has made the city one of the biggest industrial centers of the country.

The city of Johor Bahru is located at 1°29′N 103°44′E. 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 Johor (also known as the Straits of Tebrau), which separatesMalaysia and Singapore. 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.

Johor Bahru was founded in 1855 by Temenggung Daeng Ibrahim, the father of Sultan Abu Bakar, one of the best-remembered of all Malay Sultans, and Chinese businessman Wong Ah Fook. The town was originally named Tanjung Puteri, and it had its beginnings as a small Malay fishing village. Sultan Abu Bakar changed the name to Johor Bahru when he proclaimed it the capital of his kingdom in 1866, after he moved the seat of government from the old capital at Teluk Belanga in Singapore.

Sultan Abu Bakar mosque at night

Sultan Abu Bakar was the grandson of Temenggong Abdul Rahman, the Temenggong of Johor who signed the initial treaty with the British when they sought permission to lease Singapore island in 1819.Much of the prosperity Johor enjoys today can be traced directly to Sultan Abu Bakar's success in persuading British and Chinese entrepreneurs to invest in agricultural estates in the area. Sultan Abu Bakar took a great interest in planning and laying out his royal city of Johor Bahru. (In view of his contributions, many buildings and places in the city today bear his name and marks. For example, the Royal Abu Bakar Museum, Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque and Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar, which is also the oldest school in Johor are named after him. The customs checkpoint at the 2nd link is also named after him into Sultan Abu Bakar Complex.)

Johor Bahru has witnessed a few major Malaysian historical events such as the establishment of the leading political party in Malaysia, UMNO (United Malays National Organisation), in 1946.

On 1 January 1994, Johor Bahru was officially granted city status and Dato Hashim Yahya became the first mayor (Datuk Bandar). The City Square (Dataran Bandaraya) was constructed to commemorate this event.

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