The city had been proclaimed as one of the recently declared Highly-Urbanized cities in the Philippines under the power of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but the decision was opposed by the provincial government.
Tarlac City is approximately 24 metres (79 ft) above sea level on some parts but reaching even 50 metres (160 ft) on large western portions. Tarlac City was historically a part of what is now Porac, Pampanga. Parts of Tarlac city are claimed to be among the few portions of land in the province which was not created by ancient eruptions from Mount Pinatubo.
According to statistics compiled by the Philippine government, the most dominant religion in the city is Christianity with 73% of the population adhering to the faith. The majority of Christians are Roman Catholics with a growing number of Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), and Members Church of God International (MCGI), a minority of other Protestants. The remaining 27% being non-Christian such as Muslims, etc.
Tarlac City is the usual bus stop for commuters travelling to the Ilocos Region and Cordillera provinces. Bus companies that take a route through the city include Philippine Rabbit, Victory Liner, Five Star, Partas, Baliwag Transit, Farinas Transit, Genesis, Santrans, De Leon Express and GV Florida, etc. Baliwag Transit is just about the only bus company aside from Golden Bee that takes a route through the rest of the Central plains instead of the Ilocos Region and Cordilleras.
The MacArthur Highway goes through the southern to north end of the city, there are a series of roads leading to Zambales and Pangasinan as well as Baguio City.
There are ten main shopping malls in Tarlac City; SM City Tarlac, which is the first SM Supermall in the province of Tarlac, is located on McArthur Highway, Brgy. San Roque, Tarlac City. The mall has a total floor area of 103,340 square meters on a 34,385 square meter land area. SM City Tarlac was opened to the public on April 30, 2010. Other shopping centers in the city are Robinson's Luisita (formerly Plaza Luisita Mall), Luisita Center, San Miguel, Tarlac, EZ Mart (5), Uniwide Tarlac Central Mall, My Metro Town Mall, C&S Shopping Complex,Saver's Appliance Depot, Cindy's Family Plaza, Magic Star Mall (2), Puregold, City Walk Mall, and Palm Plaza Mall.
The Malatarlak Festival, celebrated every January, is the most common festival in the city. In 2011, The city mayor at that time changed the name of the festival to Melting pot Festival. Although it is still remembered by its former name.