Located on the southern-most part of Peninsular Malaysia, Johor is one of the most developed and urban states in Malaysia. While the royal city off the state is Muar, the capital city of Johor is Johor Bahru, which is also located in the south part of the state of Johor.
Johor’s neighbouring states are Pahang to the north, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan to the northwest. Johor is also the entry-point into Singapore and is separated by the Straits of Johor. Formally known by its Arabic honorific, Darul Ta'zim, or "Abode of Dignity", Johor is also sometimes spelled as ‘Johore’ in English.
Considering Johor’s current urban population and modern culture, Johor was formed just over 150 years – making the developed state a relative young city by world capital standards. The regal state of Johor was initially founded in 1855 by Sultan Sir Abu Bakar Ibni Al-Marhum Tun Temenggung Raja Daing Ibrahim when it was merely a small, peaceful fishing village.
The village was named Iskandar Puteri in 1858. In 1866, the Sultan’s son, Sultan Abu Bakar, gave the village its current name; Johor Bahru, clinching the state’s name with the opening of the Grand Palace (Istana Besar) which now houses the many historical artefacts and heirlooms from Johor's history.
Under the reign of Sultan Abu Bakar, the once small fishing village quickly developed into a thriving town while still retaining its humble, family roots of being a community of Malay fishermen.
Post World War II, the town of Johor grew in status as the symbol of independence from British rule. This is largely due to the efforts of Dato' Sir Onn bin Jaafar who formed the United Malay National Organization as to protest against Britain’s citizenship laws.
His political methods while peaceful were determined and successful and over the next few years, Malaysia gained its independence and Dato' Sir Onn bin Jaafar went on to become the Great Minister of Johor. Singapore would later on separate from Malaysia in 1965.
Post-independence, Johor prospered into a modern day metropolis through various expansion efforts with the development of infrastructure including industrial transformations and the increase of new suburbs such as Tebrau and Plentong.
In 1994, the capital Johor Bahru was officiated as a city and Dataran Bandaraya was built to memorialize the city’s status and now serves as the symbol of pride for Johoreans.
Influenced by traders throughout its history, the culture of Johor is unique and has been preserved by its community. One of the central influences to Johor culture was brought by the Bugis people, who primarily arrived to Malaysia through Johor before moving into various parts of the nation. There is also a strong Arab influence present in traditional art performances such as Zapin and Hamdolok and traditional Johor instruments like Gambus.
Javanese culture has also been traced to have been integrated into Johor traditional culture – namely through the famous Kuda Kepang dance. Due to its rich history and assimilation of different immigrations, Johor’s distinctive culture was born and is cultivated to this very day.