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A glimpse of Arusha

A Glimpse of Arusha

Located in north eastern Tanzania, Arusha is the capital of the Arusha Region. The city is situated under the towering giant Mount Meru, and Mount Kilimanjaro is just 82.6km away. Arusha was first settled in the 1830s by the Arusha Maasai. These agropastoral settlers belonged to the Arusha Chini community who lived south of Mount Kilimanjaro. Arusha is the safari capital of Tanzania, and a popular stopover for adventurers who are preparing for a Kilimanjaro trek.


Gate way to the Safari Circuit of Tanzania

One of Tanzania’s most developed and fastest growing towns, the bustling ‘Safari Town’ of Arusha is a hive of arrival and departure activity as countless 4WD safari vehicles load up with provisions and set off with their passengers into the endless, game-teeming plains of the mighty Serengeti National Park. 

Established in 1900 as a minor German military garrison, Arusha lies halfway between the Cape and Cairo and was once a major trading post for the local Waarusha and Wameru tribes. Nowadays it is not only the country’s most active tourism centre but also an important regional business and administrative centre and host to a colourful array of street markets, museums, craft shops, Makonde carving workshops, street cafes, restaurants and bars.

Arusha, in northern Tanzania, is surrounded by some of Africa’s most famous landscapes and national parks. Beautifully situated below Mount Meru on the eastern edge of the eastern branch of the Great Rift Valley, it has a pleasant climate and is close to Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Olduvai Gorge, Tarangire National Park, and Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as having its own Arusha National Park on Mount Meru. Arusha is the capital of the Arusha Region and has a population of 270,485 (2002 census).

Arusha City location

Geography and climate

Despite its proximity to the equator, Arusha’s elevation of 1400 m on the southern slopes of Mount Meru keeps temperatures down and alleviates humidity. Cool dry air is prevalent for much of the year. The temperature ranges between 13 and 30 degrees Celsius with an average around 25 degrees. It has distinct wet and dry seasons, and experiences an eastern prevailing wind from the Indian Ocean, a couple of hundred miles east.

Industry and economy

The primary industry of the region is agriculture, with large vegetable and flower producers sending high-quality produce to Europe. Small-scale agriculture was badly hit by the coffee crisis of recent years and is now largely subsistence farming. Arusha has several factories including a brewery, tyre and fibreboard plant, and a large pharmaceuticals maker. Arusha is the sole source of a gem-quality mineral called Tanzanite, currently produced in large quantities by corporate mining concerns.

Tourism is also a major contributor to the economy in Arusha, being the second largest contributor of income in Tanzania. Given the town’s location near popular attractions such as Mount Kilimanjaro, Serengeti National Park, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Arusha has become a popular staging point for tourists visiting Tanzania for photo safaris and hiking treks to Mt. Kilimanjaro. Many documentary and feature-length films have been set in and around Arusha, including the 1962 Howard Hawks film Hatari with John Wayne.

East African Community

Arusha is home to the offices of the East African Community, and plays host to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, all of which contributes to the local economy.


Arusha is mostly served by Kilimanjaro International Airport for international travellers, some 60 kilometres (37 mi) east, approximately halfway to Moshi. The airport provides international and domestic flights. Arusha Airport is a smaller domestic airport in the west of the city, currently undergoing expansion. It serves more than 87,000 passengers yearly, amazingly for its size. It is surrounded by hills to the north and east; the local habitat is a mix of savanna woodlands, agriculture and remnant forest. There are no passenger train services to or from Arusha, but there are regular coaches (buses) to Nairobi, Dodoma and Dar es Salaam, plus other local towns.


Arusha is home to many of Tanzania’s festivals, and the yearly festival is hosted by a few Tanzanian corporate sponsors that attract various artists from around the world. Artists like Shaggy and Ja Rule are just a few of the world’s most popular artists to perform in the wondrous city of Arusha.

Arusha also hosts the annual Arusha Nane Nane Agricultural show. Nane Nane is one of the many vibrant public holidays in Tanzania, held on August 8th (the 8th of the 8th month, nane nane means “eight eight” in Swahili). Nane Nane is marked on August 8th every year where farmers and other stakeholders exchange knowledge and business. It attracts up to a half million people every year. Arusha is also known for its vibrant night life, with popular local night clubs like, Colobus Club and the Blue Triple ‘A’.

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