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 Johor
the Southern Gateway

View from Sibu
Johor

Often erroneously perceived as just a transit point to Singapore, Johor in fact has a lot to offer visitors. Johor Bahru, the capital, boasts of several dazzling shopping malls; a plethora of night spots; and Zon, the largest duty-free shopping complex in Malaysia. Just an hour's drive away lies the golden beach of Desaru, dubbed the "Last Unspoilt Corner of South East Asia".
The pristine islands of Pulau Besar, Pulau Sibu, Pulau Rawa, Pulau Aur and several others are perfect destinations for scuba diving and snorkelling. The Endau Rompin National Park is a haven for rare species of flora and fauna, and there are six others recreational forests to boot. Johor is also a golfer's paradise as it is the state with the most golf courses.

History

Johor was founded in the early 16th century by the son of Sultan Mahmud Shah, the last Sultan of Melaka when the capital was captured by the Portuguese. At its peak, the Johor empire stretched to the Riau Archipelago. In the 18th century, the Bugis of Celebes and the Minangkabaus of Sumatra controlled the political powers in the Johor-Riau empire, but in the early 19th century, Malay and Bugis rivalry dominated the scene. Even today, Johor, and Riau lie on the strategic sea route passing from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean, through the Straits of Malacca.

In 1819, Stamford Raffles capitalised on their inter-faction rivalry to acquire Singapore for the British.
As a result, the Johor-Riau empire was broken into mainland Johor, controlled by the Temenggong, and the Sultanate of Riau-Lingga, controlled by the Bugis. In 1886, Temenggong Abu Bakar elevated himself to Sultan. He was succeeded by his son, Sultan Ibrahim. In 1914, the British Adviser to administer Johor until the Japanese Occupation in 1945. In 1957, Johor joined the federation of Malaya.

Note: the Riau Archipelago comprises three main islands - Batam , Bintan and Bulan. Batam is just 20 kilometres from Singapore and 415 km2 in size.
 

Sultan Abu Bakar
Sultan Abu Bakar

Economy

Johor's economy is based on a mix of agriculture, manufacturing, commerce, and tourism. It is the nation's major producer of palm oil, rubber, pineapples, and bananas. Bauxite is mined in Pengerang, and Pasir Gudang is growing into an important international port. Many industrial estates are found in and around Johor Bahru and other major towns. Here, the factories produce electrical appliances, furniture, textiles and petrochemical products.

Off-shore Islands

The eastern coast of Johor has a string of beautiful islands fit for scuba diving and snorkelling. One island that is easily reached is Pulau Sibu, just two-and-a-half hours by boat from Mersing. A faster way to reach Pulau Sibu is from Tanjung Leman, 20 km south of Mersing.
Apart from Pulau Sibu, the other islands with accomodation are Pulau Rawa, Pulau Pemanggil, Pulau Besar, Pulau Tinggi, Pulau Dayang, Pulau Sibu Tengah and Pulau Aur. Closer to the shore, Pulau Hujung and Pulau Tengah are visited mostly by day-trippers.

Pulau Aur - het resort
Pulau Aur

Recreational Forests

For back-to-nature experiences, one can venture to several recreational forests around the state. The most popular is Gunung Ladang Recreational Forest, the site of Johor's highest mountain, Gunung Ladang. Challenging treks to the summit of the mountain and overnight stays at the impressive Sagil Waterfall are main activities here. At the base of the waterfall are camping sites, changing rooms and the Gunung Ledang Resort. According to the legend, Gunung Ledang was the home of a Johor princess who was wooed by the Sultan of Melaka in the 15th century.
About 30 km northwest of Johor Bahru is the Gunung Pulai Recreational Forest which has several waterfalls, and also jungle trails leading to Mount Pulai, 654 metres high.
Other recreatinal forests include the Gunung Arong Recreational Forest, Gunung Berlumut Recreational Forest, Gunung Lambak Recreational Forest and Sungai Pencarang Recreational Forest.


Gunung Ledang Resort

 

 

 

  Ben van Wijnen

 

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