The municipality of Arusha has been was upgraded to "city" status, becoming Tanzania's fifth city after Dar-es-salaam, Mwanza, Tanga and Mbeya.
Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete commemorated Arusha’s new status with a series of ceremonies on 1 November. Kikwete unveiled the new city emblem at the Mwenge monument near the grounds of the Arusha Declaration Museum, and laid a foundation stone at the junction of Arusha Technical College Road and Fr Babu Street in the Levolosi district. Public celebrations took place at the Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium.
The upgrade follows a seven-year wait after the former municipality was "fast-tracked" to become a city in July 2005. Prior to being awarded city status, Arusha had to meet a number of requirements including the expansion of its mapped area and upgrading 11 surrounding villages into wards or streets. It gained its long-awaited status last August but it was not marked officially until 1 November.
Local press have been less than complimentary about the city's emblem which has been described as a "rushed affair" featuring a hand-painted image of the Clock Tower that stands next to the Central Post Office in the centre of the city. Some commentators have suggested that a better emblem would have been the Mwenge freedom torch – formerly used as Arusha municipality's official crest – with Mount Meru in the background.
Arusha was declared a township in 1948 and became a municipality in 1980. Census figures from 2002 put the population at about 280,000. It now stands at over half a million and is estimated to grow to 750,000 by 2013.