If you ask most people to tell you something about Arusha, they’ll probably say that it is home to world-renowned national parks. But while Lake Manyara and Arusha National Park are quite impressive, there is more to know about Arusha than its wildlife. The region, and particularly, the little city of Arusha town, has played a major role in history, including the earliest traces of mankind itself.
So, here are 10 super interesting facts and things about Arusha:
1. The “cradle of mankind”
Any decent paleontologist, anthropologist or paleoanthropologist is familiar with the historic site that is Olduvai Gorge. This gorge holds the earliest evidence of the existence of human beings in the world.
The fossil remains of bones and stone tools proved evolutionary scientists right, humankind evolved in Africa. This glorious place is located on the outskirts of Arusha, between Serengeti national park and the Ngorongoro crater.
Evolutionary scientists today have uncovered more than 60 fossils of different human lineage as old as 2 million years.
If you love history and are ever in Arusha, this site is a must go.
2. Cultural Heritage Centre
A unique centre located in the outskirts of the city, cultural heritage centre allows one to view art and culture belonging to the past and the present. It has also hosted four famous statesmen; George. W Bush, Bill Clinton, King Harald and Thabo Mbeki.
The centre is a local and tourist favourite, and is globally recognized for its amazing architecture.
3. Home of the ICTR
For over 10 years, Arusha has been home to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, commonly referred to as the ICTR. This is the international court that serves justice against military officials and other personnel found guilty of genocide and other violations of human rights during the Rwandan genocide.
One of the most terrifying and darkest civil genocides to happen in Africa, the proprietors of these horrors are brought to trial in the criminal court in Arusha. Tours and field trips can be organized to go and visit the centre.
4. The centre of Africa
During postcolonial rule, this was seen as a sign of the old British Empire. Nowadays, the clock tower is a common meeting place for both locals and tourists in Arusha. The old tower is located in the central roundabout of the small city and there is an old fascinating tale that surrounds it.
The clock tower was supposedly built in its specific location because it is the central point between Cairo and Capetown.
5. Hollywood loves Arusha
In 1962, Howard Hawks’ film Hatari was shot in Arusha. The legendary John Wayne and other distinguished actors such as Robert Taylor stayed in the historical Safari Hotel (now known as the New Safari Hotel); this hotel has been around since 1935!
6. Globally recognized park
Ok, so we had to mention at least one national park located in Arusha! Huffington Post recognized Kilimanjaro’s National park as top 35 of the World’s most amazing national park, and the world clearly has plenty to offer! With a variety of species and hills galore, Kilimanjaro National Park is a must see when you find yourself in Arusha.
7. Mt. Kilimanjaro
It is hard to mention Kilimanjaro National Park without mentioning the glorious mountain itself, Mt.Kilimanjaro. The summit of Africa is located in Arusha and a total number of 35,000 people attempt to summit the mountain annually. However, less than half of this number actually summit the mountain.
8. Home to Tanzanite
Arusha is one of the few regions in Tanzania where the beautiful rare, midnight blue gemstone, Tanzanite was discovered. As the name suggests, this stone can only be found in Tanzania and one of the largest mine deposits lies in Arusha.
9. Past meets present
For all history lovers and people in general, the National Museum in Arusha used to be a fort that was built by the Germans during the early 1900’s.
10. Shanga shanga
A global uplifting project that has roots in Arusha, Shanga Shanga is one of the first widespread attempts at raising awareness for the disabled in Tanzania, while also giving people in this community employment opportunities.
Their goal is both sustainability and fair trade as they recycle glass to make jewellery and various figurines. All Shanga Shanga locations utilize the recycled bottles, cans, paper, Maasai beading as well as recycling old pots and pans into decorations. Demand for Shanga Shanga products has now reached a global scale with countries such as the USA, Australia, and Japan importing the extraordinary jewellery.
There you have it! 10 awesome historical and cultural facts about Arusha, if you have never visited the small city that has been an oasis to many, you have no reason not to now.