The name Kluang derives from the Malay word 'keluang' which means a type of flying fox or rather a type of fruit bat. These used to be plentiful in the district decades ago. They have almost completely disappeared due to the combination of hunting and destruction of their natural habitat (deforestation).
Kluang was founded in 1915 as the administrative capital for central Johor The main railway line linking north to south Malaya was built passing through Kluang and this helped in its growth. Roads were built to link Kluang to Johor Bahru towards the south, to Batu Pahat towards the north-west and to Mersing towards the east. Kluang is divided into two district councils namely Simpang Renggam District Council (Malay: Majlis Daerah Simpang Renggam) based at the town of Simpang Renggam and Kluang Municipal Council (Malay: Majlis Perbandaran Kluang) based at the town of Kluang which is also the district capital.
During World War II, the town of Kluang was captured relatively uncontested by Japanese forces advancing southwards as it was abandoned by Allied forces retreating towards Singapore. General Yamashita moved his headquarters forward from Kuala Lumpur to Kluang on the 27th of January, 1942 as he advanced southwards. The Japanese later used the airbase in Kluang to launch air attacks on targets ranging from Singapore to Sumatra.
From 1963 onwards the airfield was used by the British Army as a base for 4 Aircraft workshops together with REME and a Ghurka regiment until the early 1970's when the base was closed down.
The highest point in Kluang is Gunung Lambak, a 510m tall mountain and one of the southernmost mountains in the Malaysian main range which lies not far from the town.
The Mengkibol River runs through the town. Kluang is landlocked and has no seafront.
Kluang is served by a railway and roads linking it to all neighbouring districts. It has a railway station as well as a bus interchange. The closest on-ramp to the North-South Highway is at Air Hitam although travellers approaching Kluang from the south may find exiting at Simpang Renggam more convenient. There is an airfield in Kluang but it is a military airfield, not a civilian one.
Urban sprawl in Kluang over the last three decades or so from the 1970s to 2000 has been roughly along the major roads. The town center itself has more than tripled in size in terms of the number and land area occupied by commercial and retail buildings in that time.
Kluang initially grew as a rubber planting district. Rubber planting has, however, since then taken a back seat to other types of crops. Kluang now boasts large tracts of oil palm plantations as well as pineapple,koko and tea plantations. New kinds of plantation such as dragon fruit and organic vegetables are also popular.
From its early days as an entirely agricultural economy, Kluang has developed various industries including polymer, paper, textiles, ceramics, industrial paints and electrical products. Most of Malaysia's major banks have branches in Kluang. In the last few years, several stock brokerages have opened shop in Kluang.
Kluang is served by a district hospital, a district police station and fire station. It has numerous primary schools, several secondary schools and a public library. Sekolah Menengah Sains Johor, a government boarding secondary school with a special emphasis on science subjects, was built in the 1970s on the outskirts of Kluang along the Batu Pahat road.
Kluang High School or Sekolah Tinggi Kluang is one of the best known schools in Kluang, and the Chong Hwa High School is the second biggest Chinese secondary school in Malaysia. A number of other schools were built between 2000 to 2006.
Gunung Belumut and Gunung Lambak are popular with jungle trekkers. Besides,you can enjoy horse riding activities at Gunung Lambak.The area of Machap (on the road between Simpang Renggam and Air Hitam) is well known for its pottery and porcelain.
Also noteworthy is an authentic coffee shop located in no. 56, Jalan Lambak by the name of Tong Fong Cafe (a.k.a. Eastern Cafe) which was very popular with the British soldiers during the heyday when Malaya was still under British rule. The operator is a second generation descendant of the owner and the coffee shop has been operating since 1954.