Malaysia Johor Bahru History Facts & Timeline

Johor Bahru, which has a history of just over 150 years, is relatively new. It was established by Temenggong Daing Islam, the ruler of the state. He set up his administrative headquarters there in 1855. Johor Bahru, at the beginning of its existence, was known as Tanjung Puteri. It was a small fishing village.

In 1858, it was renamed Iskandar Puteri for the first time. It was a small community a few years later when Temenggong Abu Bakar (the son and heir of Ibrahim) gave it its current name on the first day in 1866 to commemorate the opening of the Grand Palace, the Istana Besar.


The reign of Abu Bakar saw the village grow quickly into a city. During this period, many of Johor Bahru’s most iconic landmarks were built, including the Istana Besar, which was the residence of the Menteri Besar (“Great Minister”), and the Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque (“Masjid Negeri”). Bakar’s reign was also the time in Johor Bahru history when the first Chinese migrants arrived.

In the first decade of 20th century, work was completed to extend the Malay Peninsula railroad. The Johor Bahru Causeway, which connects the Malay Peninsula with Singapore via road and rail, was inaugurated in 1923. Although the Sultan Ibrahim Building, the state secretariat building was completed in the 1940s, the town’s growth was slow during World Wars. The rise of the town is largely due to Singapore, which lies just offshore.


At the end of January 1942, the Japanese army invaded the town and took control. Before the Battle of Singapore, Japan made the Sultan’s Istana Bukit Serene home into a military base. This was of strategic significance as Singapore was a major base for the Allies. Its fall was quick, traumatic, and fatal for those living in the small British colony. The Japanese managed to march in unopposed from their Johor Bahru base, shocking the British war effort.


After the Second World War ended, Malay nationalism was a political movement that sought to give the country independence. After Malays complained about the lenient citizenship laws granted by the British government to non-Malays, Dato Sir Onn Bin Jaafar (Onn Jaafar), a local politician, founded the United Malay National Organisation.

This had serious consequences as the Chinese leadership in Singapore couldn’t accept the terms and conditions of favoritism the Malaya Federation’s new post-independence government wanted to offer Malays. They left the Federation in 1965, and became far more successful by going it alone. This had positive effects on Johor Bahru’s recent history, as it was the closest Malaysian town to the Federation and thus enjoyed the greatest economic advantages.


Johor Bahru grew further in the 1960s. Over the next 20 years, new suburbs and industrial estates were constructed in both the eastern and northern sides of the town. These included Plentong, Tebrau, and Tebrau. The town was officially recognized as a city on the 1st of January 1994. To commemorate this historic event, Dataran Bandaraya Johor Bahru was built.

The city’s development continued, with the construction of the central business district. Over the past 20 years, the federal and state governments have invested large sums in Johor Bahru’s development. This has helped Johor Bahru become Malaysia’s second largest urban area.

Nowadays, Johor Bahru has already become a famous tourist attraction in Malaysia, and it is one of the places that many locals and foreigners like to visit, especially Singaporeans. Every weekend they will go shopping and play from Singapore to Johor Bahru, after all, the distance from Singapore to Malaysia is only across a bridge.

In addition to public transportation, the most popular form of transportation is taxis, such as SGMYTRIPS. They provide everyone with an MPV 7-11 seat taxi from Singapore to JB (Johor Bahru), and they are equipped with a professional driver, so that you can start the journey with peace of mind and safety! If you still need a private car from Singapore to Legoland, SGMYTRIPS also provides this service, and the customer service is ready to accept your reservation 24 hours a day!

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