President Jakaya Kikwete officially opened Arusha as a city this week, and new signs appeared around the area. The photo above was taken on the way out of Arusha towards Kwa Iddi - "goodbye from the city of Arusha".
Below is some of what was said in the local newspaper, the Arusha Times (any errors are not mine!).
From this week therefore, Arusha is going to become Tanzania’s 5th city after Dar-es-salaam, Mwanza, Tanga and Mbeya. Arusha however ranks second to Dar, when it comes to revenue collection, beating the other three cities.
Arusha which came into being in 1900, was declared a township in 1948 and became a Municipality in 1980. It was placed on fast track to become a city on the 1st of July 2005 but the highest urban status was placed on hold pending some adjustment to the town’s boundaries.
The conditions were that, the Municipality must upgrade and improve its infrastructure and expand its mapped area in order to boost population as well as ‘killing off’ the 11 villages that were still existing within the precinct, by upgrading them into either Wards or Streets.
The 2002 Population and Housing Census indicated that the town center population on any particular night remained just above 280,000 though this figure was raised to 320,000 in the 2008 estimates.
The ‘City’s’ population currently stands at more than 500,000 following the annexation of a number of areas from the Arumeru District in 2009 and it is estimated that by 2013 Arusha City will have over 750,000 residents.
The entire Arusha Region, comprising of seven districts, meanwhile has a population of 1.8 million but it is being estimated that this number will reach over 2 million by next year.
Arusha is the mostly recognized city in Tanzania from the international perspective, being the country’s tourism capital and home to a number of international organizations and institutions like the African Court on Human and People’s rights, Eastern, Central and Southern African Health Community and the East African Community.
The town has been hosting the United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda since 1995 as well as the Pan-African Postal Union headquarters.
Arusha was also chosen to host the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, a campus which the president also inaugurated this week.
Arusha is also the only area where practically all the main economic sectors in Tanzania are represented. The precinct boasts major agricultural activities including horticulture, coffee estates, and rice and maize plantations.
Arusha is also the main trading area for Minerals and Gemstones such as the rare Tanzanite and Green Garnets, in addition to being the gateway to tourists destinations such as Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park and Mount Kilimanjaro.