An Imperial decree in July 1899 established Tsuruga as an open port for trading with the United States and the United Kingdom.
Bashō (1644-1694) wrote a celebrated haiku on the moonlight over Tsuruga bay.
Tsuruga was incorporated as a city on April 1, 1937.
Tsuruga is known for its two nuclear power facilities - the Monju demonstration nuclear plant and the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant.
Tsuruga was the only Japanese port opened to the Polish orphans in 1920, and to the Jewish refugees in 1940 thanks to Jan Zwartendijk, the Dutch Consul in Kaunas, who issued visa for Curaçao and Surinam, Mr. Chiune Sugihara, Vice-Consul for the Empire of Japan in Lithuania could issue transit visa for Japan. Jan Zwartendijk is honored in Israel, Lithuania and The Netherlands. In Japan his work is rather unknown so far.
Situated on Wakasa Bay, Tsuruga lies some 50 km south of Fukui, 90 km northwest of Nagoya, 40 km northwest of Maibara, 115 km northeast of Osaka, 75 km northeast of Kyoto, and 65 km east of Maizuru.
Among cities on the Japan Sea coast, Tsuruga is the nearest city to the Pacific Ocean. The distance between Tsuruga and Nagoya is only 115 km. Tsuruga and Nagoya are historically close to Shiga Prefecture and Kyoto.
Tsuruga has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) with hot summers and cool winters. Precipitation is plentiful throughout the year, and is particularly heavy in December and January.
Tsuruga has a very healthy mixed economy focused on providing services to the Wakasa region, and also features a container port, a bulk terminal, a coal-fired power plant, two textile mills, a large furniture factory, a playground equipment manufacturer, and a Panasonic (Matsushita) facility. Education and energy research also drive the economy.
Well-known Japanese DJ Chikashi Nishiwaki also founded his eclectic club, Tree, here. The club has been host to many national and international celebrity guests such as Jazztronik, Gilles Peterson, Toshio Matsuura from UFO, DJs Ravi, Julien Love and Two Dee, and Soil and Pimp Sessions. He has also mixed music with Tyronne Noonan, former frontman of George.
About twenty or so bronze statues – each perhaps four or five feet tall – of characters and scenes from the popular 1970s anime Uchū Senkan Yamato (Space Battleship Yamato or, in the United States, Star Blazers) and Galaxy Express 999 were erected in the city's downtown area in 1999. Though the creator of these shows, Leiji Matsumoto, was born elsewhere, an exhibit of his artwork was held in the city in 1999 as part of the city's 100th anniversary celebration, accompanied by the erection of the statues.