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The word Johor is taken from the Arabic word, 'Jauhar', which literally means 'Precious Stones'. This illustrates the influence of the early Arab traders who traded spices in Johor. To the Siamese, Johor is 'Gangganu' or 'Treasured Stones'. One can trace the multifaceted culture and ethnic mix evident today back through the centuries when it was fought over by the Malays, Portuguese, Chinese, Dutch and British sometimes on grounds of religion but more often because of trade.

The history of modern Johor began with Dato' Temenggong Daing Ibrahim, the son of Temenggong Abdul Rahman who was a descendant of Sultan Abdul Jalil IV of Johor. In 1855, under the terms of a treaty between the British in Singapore and Sultan Ali of Johor, the control of Johor was formally cede to Dato' Temenggong Daing Ibrahim. Sultan Ali retained control over Kesang until shortly before his death in 1877 when the territory was ceded to Dato' Temenggong Abu Bakar. Dato' Temenggong Daing Ibrahim maintained the seat of government at Teluk Belanga in Singapore but also begs to develop Tanjung Puteri in Johor. His reign saw the opening of land to Chinese settlers from Singapore for the cultivation of pepper, a move that boosted the economy of the state.

The Temenggong was succeeded by his son, Dato' Temenggong Abu Bakar who later took the title Seri Maharaja Johor. Temenggong Abu Bakar continued his father's efforts in cultivating friendly relations with the British. In 1866, he was formally crowned Sultan of Johor, a feat that earned him the title of 'Father of Modern Johor'. He gave Johor its constitution and developed an efficient system of administration. The moving of the seat of government from Teluk Belanga to Tanjung Puteri (renamed Johor Bahru) in 1841 led to the rapid development of the town as government offices, police stations, mosques and court houses were built. The Istana Besar constructed during his reign became the official residence of the Sultan.

His successor, Sultan Ibrahim, continued to maintain close relations with the British and in 1910, requested for the services of a British advisor to counsel him on matters of state. Under the able administration of Sultan Ibrahim and his successors, Johor continued to thrive and prosper. In 1941, the peninsula fell under Japanese occupation and joined the Federation of Malaya in 1948. After independence in 1957, Malaysia has evolved into a combination of constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. Johor is now a prosperous state with an expanding economy, fueled by agriculture, manufacturing, commerce and tourism.

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International visitors can fly in via Kuala Lumpur, or Kota Kinabalu and Kuching in East Malaysia, to Sultan Ismail International Airport Johor Bahru. The Airport also connects Johou Bahru to Bayan Lepas International Airport in Penang.

Johor Bahru is accessible via the North-South Expressway from the north passing through major towns including the capital city Kuala Lumpur. Visitors from Singapore can enter Johor by road and rail via the causeway and through the Second Link from Tuas passing through Gelang Patah.

Ferry services are available for visitors from Singapore, disembarking either at Tanjung Belungkor near Desaru, at the Stulang Duty Free Trade Zone Ferry Terminal near the Johor Bahru city center or Kukup Ferry Terminal.

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