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A sister city or twin town relationship is a form of legal or social agreement between two geographically and politically distinct localities for the purpose of promoting cultural and commercial ties. While there are early examples of international links between municipalities akin to what are known as sister cities or twin towns today dating back to the 9th century, the modern concept was first established and adopted worldwide during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
.


Origins of the modern concept

The modern concept of town twinning has its roots in the Second World War. More specifically, it was inspired by the bombing of
Coventry Coventry ( or ) is a City status in the United Kingdom, city in the West Midlands (county), West Midlands, England. It is on the River Sherbourne. Coventry has been a large settlement for centuries, although it was not founded and given its c ...

Coventry
on 14 November 1940, known as the
Coventry Blitz The Coventry Blitz (blitz Blitz, German for "lightning Lightning is a naturally occurring electrostatic discharge during which two electrically charged regions in the atmosphere or ground temporarily equalize themselves, causing the ...
. The idea emerged as a way of establishing solidarity links between cities in allied countries that went through similar devastating events. In response to the
Battle of Stalingrad In the Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 19422 February 1943), Nazi Germany, Germany and Axis powers, its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Volgograd#Stalingrad, Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in Southern Russia. Marked ...

Battle of Stalingrad
, 830 women in Coventry – led by its Mayor Emily Smith – had their names embroidered on a tablecloth along with the words “Little help is better than big sympathy” and sent it, along with money (each donated six pence), to the people of Stalingrad. The tablecloth can now be seen at the Panorama Museum of the Battle of Stalingrad. The twinning between Coventry and Stalingrad was formalised in 1944 and, after the end of the war, similar links were established to foster friendship and understanding among former foes as an act of peace and reconciliation, with new twinnings between Coventry and German cities:
Kiel Kiel () is the capital and most populous city in the northern German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany ...

Kiel
as early as in 1947 and
Dresden Dresden (, ; wen, label=Sorbian languages, Upper and Lower Sorbian, Drježdźany) is the capital city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony and its second most populous city, after Leipzig. It is the List of cities in German ...

Dresden
in 1956. The purpose of twinnings then got expanded to encourage trade and tourism or to reflect other links, such as towns sharing the same name or migration links. By the 2000s, town twinning became increasingly used to form strategic international business links among member cities, and may include localities of any scope such as villages, prefectures, or countries.


Terminology

In the United Kingdom, the term "twin towns" is most commonly used; the term "sister cities" is generally used for agreements with towns and cities in the Americas. In mainland Europe, the most commonly used terms are "twin towns", "partnership towns", "partner towns", and "friendship towns". The
European Commission The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (polity), state. The executive executes a ...

European Commission
uses the term "twinned towns" and refers to the process as "town twinning". Spain uses the term "ciudades hermanadas", which means "twinned cities". Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic use ''Partnerstadt'' (De) / ''miasto partnerskie'' (Pl) / ''partnerské město'' (Cz), which translate as "partner town" or "partner city". France uses ''ville jumelée'' (jumelage, twinned town or city), and Italy has ''gemellaggio'' (twinning) and ''comune gemellato'' (twinned municipality). In the Netherlands, the term is ''partnerstad'' or ''stedenband'' ("city bond" when providing mutual support). In Greece, the word αδελφοποίηση (''adelphopiisi''fraternisation) has been adopted. In Iceland, the terms ''vinabæir'' (friend towns) and ''vinaborgir'' (friend cities) are used. In the former
Soviet Bloc The Eastern Bloc, also known as the Communist Bloc, the Socialist Bloc and the Soviet Bloc, was the group of socialist state A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' ...
, "twin towns" and "twin cities" were used, along with ''города-побратимы'' (Ru) (sworn brother cities). The Americas, South Asia, and Australasia use the term "sister cities" or "twin cities". In China, the term is 友好城市 (yǒuhǎo chéngshìfriendly cities). Sometimes, other government bodies enter into a twinning relationship, such as the agreement between the provinces of Hainan in China and Jeju-do in South Korea. The
Douzelage The Douzelage is a town twinning association with one town from each of the member states of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are locat ...
is a town twinning association with one town from each of the member states of the European Union. Though the term is often used interchangeably with the term "friendship city", this may mean a relationship with a more limited scope in comparison to a sister city relationship, and friendship city relationships are mayor-to-mayor agreements.


City diplomacy

City diplomacy is a form of paradiplomacy that involves discussions between officials and residents of different cities. Often these cities will be located in different countries. As such, city diplomacy involves a sort of
international relations International relations (IR), international affairs (IA) or international studies (IS) is the scientific study of interactions between sovereign states. In a broader sense, it concerns all activities between states—such as war, diplomacy ...
that works in parallel to the conventional system involving embassies, ambassadors, and treaties negotiated at the level of
nation states A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newsp ...
. According to
Rodrigo TavaresRodrigo Tavares (26 December 1978) is a Portuguese-born academic, finance professional, and public administrator. Previously, he was Head of Foreign Affairs of the São Paulo state government. Biography He received his Ph.D. in Peace and Developmen ...
, the earliest formal attempts to establish city diplomacy across national boundaries took place in the 19th century. Only a handful of cities were involved in the 19th-century efforts; it wasn't until the turn of the millennium that it became much more common. The first priority of those carrying out city diplomacy typically overlaps with the core aims of municipal government – improving the lives of local residents. Yet they will often collaborate with peers in other cities to work on issues of planet-wide concern, such as efforts to address climate change. The phrase "city diplomacy" is formally used in the workings of the
United Cities and Local Governments United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) is an umbrella international organisation for city, cities, local government, local and regional governments, and municipal associations throughout the world that is concerned with representing and defend ...
and the
C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group is a group of 97 cities around the world that represents one twelfth of the world's population and one quarter of the global economy. Created and led by cities, C40 is focused on tackling climate change and ...
, and is recognised by the
USC Center on Public Diplomacy The USC Center on Public Diplomacy (CPD) was established in 2003 as a partnership between the USC Annenberg School for Communication and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences' School of International Relations at the University ...
. A March 2014 debate in the British
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
acknowledged the evolution of town twinning into city diplomacy, particularly in matters of trade and tourism, but also in culture and post-conflict reconciliation. The importance of cities developing "their own foreign economic policies on trade, foreign investment, tourism and attracting foreign talent" has also been highlighted by the
World Economic Forum The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an international non-governmental organization, international non-governmental and Lobbying organization, lobbying organisation based in Cologny, canton of Geneva, Switzerland. It was founded on 24 January 197 ...

World Economic Forum
. In addition to C40, other organisations facilitating city diplomacy include the
World Cities Summit The World Cities Summit is an international conference series on public governance and the sustainable development Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while simultaneously sustaining the abil ...
, the ''Smart City Expo World Congress'', the ''Strong City Network'' and ''100 Resilient Cities.'' As of 2016, there were over 125 such multilateral networks and forums to facilitate international collaboration between different municipal authorities. Research showed that the mayors of the cities play an active role in city diplomacy.


Europe

The earliest known town twinning in Europe was between
Paderborn Paderborn () is a city in eastern North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, capital of the Paderborn (district), Paderborn district. The name of the city derives from the river Pader (river), Pader and "born", an old German term for the source of a river. ...

Paderborn
, Germany, and
Le Mans Le Mans (, ) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routled ...

Le Mans
, France, in 836. Starting in 1905,
Keighley Keighley ( ) is a large market town and a civil parishes in England, civil parish in the City of Bradford Borough of West Yorkshire, England. It is the second largest settlement in the borough, after Bradford. Keighley is north-west of Bradfo ...
in West Yorkshire, England, had a twinning arrangement with French communities
Suresnes Suresnes () is a Communes of France, commune in the western suburbs of Paris, Île-de-France. Located in Hauts-de-Seine, from the centre of Paris, it had a population of 49,145 as of 2016. The nearest communes are Nanterre, Puteaux, Rueil-Malmais ...
and
Puteaux Puteaux () is a Communes of France, commune in the western suburbs of Paris, France. It is located in the heart of the Hauts-de-Seine Departments of France, department, from the Kilometre zero, centre of Paris. In 2016, it had a population of 44,9 ...
. The first recorded modern twinning agreement was between Keighley and
Poix-du-Nord Poix-du-Nord is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to o ...
in Nord, France, in 1920 following the end of the
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
. This was initially referred to as an adoption of the French town; formal twinning charters were not exchanged until 1986. The practice was continued after the Second World War as a way to promote mutual understanding and cross-border projects of mutual benefit. For example,
Coventry Coventry ( or ) is a City status in the United Kingdom, city in the West Midlands (county), West Midlands, England. It is on the River Sherbourne. Coventry has been a large settlement for centuries, although it was not founded and given its c ...

Coventry
twinned with
Stalingrad Volgograd (russian: Волгогра́д, Volgográd, a=ru-Volgograd.ogg, p=vəɫɡɐˈɡrat), geographical renaming, formerly Tsaritsyn (russian: Цари́цын, Tsarítsyn) (1589–1925), and Stalingrad (russian: Сталингра́д, Stal ...

Stalingrad
and later with
Dresden Dresden (, ; wen, label=Sorbian languages, Upper and Lower Sorbian, Drježdźany) is the capital city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony and its second most populous city, after Leipzig. It is the List of cities in German ...

Dresden
as an act of peace and reconciliation, all three cities having been heavily bombed during the war. The city of
Bath Bath may refer to: * Bathing, immersion in a fluid ** Bathtub, a large open container for water, in which a person may wash their body ** Public bathing, a public place where people bathe * Thermae, ancient Roman public bathing facilities Plac ...
formed an "
Alkmaar Alkmaar is a List of cities in the Netherlands by province, city and List of municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality in the Netherlands, located in the Provinces of the Netherlands, province of North Holland. Alkmaar is well known for ...

Alkmaar
Adoption committee" in March 1945, when the Dutch city was still occupied by the German Army in the final months of the war, and children from each city took part in exchanges in 1945 and 1946. Similarly, in 1947,
Bristol Bristol () is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routle ...

Bristol
Corporation (later Bristol City Council) sent five "leading citizens" on a goodwill mission to
Hanover Hanover (; german: Hannover ; nds, Hannober) is the capital and largest city of the German States of Germany, state of Lower Saxony. Its 534,049 (2020) inhabitants make it the List of cities in Germany by population, 13th-largest city in Germa ...
.
Reading Reading is the process of taking in the sense or meaning of letters, symbols, ''etc.'', especially by sight or touch. For educators and researchers, reading is a multifaceted process involving such areas as word recognition, orthography An ...
in 1947 was the first British town to form links with a former "enemy" city –
Düsseldorf Düsseldorf ( , , ; often in English sources; Low Franconian Low Franconian, Low Frankish, NetherlandicSarah Grey Thomason, Terrence Kaufman: ''Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics'', University of California Press, 199 ...

Düsseldorf
, a link that still exists. Since 9 April 1956 Rome and Paris have been exclusively and reciprocally twinned with each other, following the motto: "Only Paris is worthy of Rome; only Rome is worthy of Paris." Within Europe, town twinning is supported by the European Union. The support scheme was established in 1989. In 2003 an annual budget of about was allocated to about 1,300 projects. The
Council of European Municipalities and Regions The Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) is the largest organisation of local and regional governments in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention ...
also works closely with the commission (DG Education and Culture) to promote modern, high quality twinning initiatives and exchanges that involve all sections of the community. It has launched a website dedicated to town twinning. As of 1995, the European Union had more than 7,000 bilateral relationships involving almost 10,000 European municipalities, primarily French (2837 twinnings) and German (2485 twinnings).
Public art Public art is art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligenc ...

Public art
has been used to celebrate twin town links, for instance in the form of seven mural paintings in the centre of the town of
SuttonSutton (''south settlement'' or ''south town'' in Old English) may refer to: Places United Kingdom England In alphabetical order by county: * Sutton, Bedfordshire * Sutton, Berkshire, a List of United Kingdom locations: Stu-Sz#Su, location * Sut ...

Sutton
, Greater London. The five main paintings show a number of the main features of the
London Borough of Sutton The London Borough of Sutton () is a London borough The London boroughs are the 32 local authority districts that make up the ceremonial county The counties and areas for the purposes of the lieutenancies, also referred to as the lie ...
and its four twin towns, along with the
heraldic shield In heraldry, an escutcheon () is a shield that forms the main or focal element in an Achievement (heraldry), achievement of arms. The word is used in two related senses. First, as the shield on which a coat of arms is displayed; second, a shield ca ...

heraldic shield
of each above the other images. Each painting also features a plant as a visual representation of its town's
environmental awareness Environmentalism or environmental rights is a broad philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philo ...
. In the case of Sutton this is in a separate smaller painting (above its main one) showing a beech tree, intended as a symbol of prosperity and from which in the borough derives its name. Another example of the use of public art is the wall sculpture of the partner cities of
Munich Munich ( ; german: München ; bar, Minga ) is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria. With a population of 1,558,395 inhabitants as of 31 July 2020, it is the List of cities in Germany by population, third-largest city in Germany, ...

Munich
, Germany. A recent study has concluded that geographical distance has very little, if any, influence upon communities' selections of a twin town. Twinned towns are often chosen because of similarities between them; thus about 15 towns in Wales are twinned with towns in
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to ...
, and
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' u ...

Oxford
is with
Bonn The Federal city The term federal city is a title for certain cities in Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official langua ...

Bonn
,
Leiden Leiden ( , ; in English language, English and Archaism, archaic Dutch language, Dutch also Leyden) is a List of cities in the Netherlands by province, city and List of municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality in the Provinces of the N ...

Leiden
,
Grenoble Grenoble ( , ; , ''Grainóvol'', oc, Graçanòbol, ''Grasanòbol'') is the prefecture A prefecture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. ...

Grenoble
and other university cities. In Italy, two sets of twins are
Rovigo Rovigo (, ; egl, Ruig) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a Administrative division, local administrative division of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The provides essential pu ...
with
Viernheim Viernheim is a midsize industrial town on Mannheim Mannheim (; Palatine German: or ), officially the University City of Mannheim (german: Universitätsstadt Mannheim), is the second-largest city in the German state of Baden-Württemberg ...
, and
Bedford Bedford is a historic market Market may refer to: *Market (economics) *Market economy *Marketplace, a physical marketplace or public market Geography *Märket, an island shared by Finland and Sweden Art, entertainment, and media Films *M ...

Bedford
with
Tulcea Tulcea (; Bulgarian language, Bulgarian, Russian language, Russian and Ukrainian language, Ukrainian: Тулча, ''Tulcha''; Greek language, Greek: Αιγισσός, ''Aegyssus''; Turkish language, Turkish: ''Tulça''; historical English: ''Tul ...

Tulcea
. Many former
West German ) , capital = Bonn The Federal city of Bonn ( lat, Bonna) is a city on the banks of the Rhine in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, with a population of over 300,000. About south-southeast of Cologne, Bonn is in th ...
cities are twinned with former East German cities; these twinning links were established before the fall of the
Iron Curtain The Iron Curtain was a political boundary dividing Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geo ...
. Famous examples are the partnerships of Hanover and
Leipzig Leipzig (, ; Upper Saxon: ) is the most populous city in the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony. With a population of 605,407 inhabitants as of 2021 (1.1 million residents in the larger urban zone), it surpasses the Saxon c ...

Leipzig
, both of which have important
trade fair groundTrade Fair Ground is a multi-use stadium in Manzini, Manzini District, Swaziland, Manzini, Eswatini. It is currently used mostly for football (soccer), football matches. The stadium holds 5,000 people. A new stadium has been proposed to replace it ...

trade fair ground
s, or between
Hamburg en, Hamburgian(s) , timezone1 = Central (CET) , utc_offset1 = +1 , timezone1_DST = Central (CEST) , utc_offset1_DST = +2 , postal_code_type = Post ...

Hamburg
and Dresden. The first US-German town twinning was in 1947 between
Worthington, Minnesota First train on the St Paul & Sioux City Railway Worthington is a city in and the county seat A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or Parish (administrative division), civil parish. The ter ...
and
Crailsheim Crailsheim is a town in the German state of Baden-Württemberg Baden-Württemberg (; ) is a States of Germany, state (''Land'') in southwest Germany, east of the Rhine, which forms the southern part of Germany's western border with France. W ...
.
St Petersburg Saint Petersburg ( rus, links=no, Санкт-Петербург, a=Ru-Sankt Peterburg Leningrad Petrograd Piter.ogg, r=Sankt-Peterburg, p=ˈsankt pʲɪtʲɪrˈburk), formerly known as Petrograd (1914–1924) and later Leningrad (1924–1991), ...
in Russia holds the record for the largest number of partnership arrangements with other communities. In June 2012, the Scottish village of
Dull Dull may refer to: __NOTOC__ Places * Dull, Perth and Kinross Dull is a village in Perth and Kinross Perth and Kinross ( sco, Pairth an Kinross; gd, Peairt agus Ceann Rois) is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland and a Lieutenancy Area L ...
and the US town of
Boring, Oregon Boring is an unincorporated community File:Entering Heinola, Minnesota.jpg, Sign at Heinola, Minnesota, Heinola, an unincorporated community in Otter Tail County, Minnesota An unincorporated area is a region not governed by a local municipal cor ...
, agreed to twin their municipalities to promote tourism in both places, playing on their names. Recently some towns have made novelty twinning arrangements with fictional or virtual locations.
Wincanton Wincanton ( or ) is a small town and electoral ward A ward is a local authority area, typically used for electoral purposes. Wards are usually named after neighbourhoods, thoroughfares, parishes, landmarks, geographical features and in some cases ...
, England is partnered with
Ankh-Morpork Ankh-Morpork is a fictional city-state which features prominently in Terry Pratchett's ''Discworld'' fantasy novels. Overview Pratchett describes this biggest city of Discworld (world), Discworld as the corrupt mercantile capital of the Discworld. ...
from
Terry Pratchett Sir Terence David John Pratchett (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015) was an English humorist A humorist (American English, American) or humourist (British English, British spelling) is an intellectual who uses humor, or wit, in writing or pu ...
's
Discworld books ''Discworld'' is a comic fantasy"Humourous Fantasy" in David Pringle, ed., ''The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy'', (pp.31-33). London, Carlton,2006. book series written by the English author Terry Pratchett, set on the Discworld (world), Di ...

Discworld books
. Town twinning has increasingly been used to form strategic international business links. For example, in the 1990s, when the
Nottingham City Council Nottingham City Council is the non-metropolitan district council for the unitary authority A unitary authority is a local authority for a place's borough which is responsible for all local government functions within its area or performs addition ...
in the UK considered installing a tram network, it consulted experts from its twin city of
Karlsruhe Karlsruhe ( , , ; South Franconian South Franconian (german: Südfränkisch) is an Upper German dialect which is spoken in the northernmost part of Baden-Württemberg Baden-Württemberg (; ) is a States of Germany, state (''Land'') in s ...

Karlsruhe
, which has one of the most extensive and efficient tram networks in Germany. With assistance from Karlsruhe's specialist engineers, Nottingham completed its second tram line in 2013. In 2014,
Bristol Bristol () is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routle ...

Bristol
and
New Orleans New Orleans (,New Orleans
announced their intention to form a "tuning" partnership based on a shared musical heritage and culture offer, at the initiative of Bristol Mayor George Ferguson.
Annecy Annecy ( , ; frp, Èneci or ) is the Prefectures in France, prefecture and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, largest city of the Haute-Savoie Departments of France, department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Regions of Fra ...

Annecy
, France and
Nerima is a special ward in Tokyo Tokyo (Japanese language, Japanese: , ''Tōkyō'' ), historically known in the west as Tokio and officially the Tokyo Metropolis (, ''Tōkyō-to''), is capital of Japan, the capital and most populous Prefectur ...
, Tokyo have for several years shared a partnership based on their "co-existent animation industry".


North America

Toledo, United States, twinned with
Toledo, Spain Toledo ( , , ) is a city and municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-l ...
, in 1931 and was the first city in North America to engage in town twinning.
Vancouver, Canada Vancouver ( ) is a major city in western Canada Western Canada, also referred to as the Western provinces and more commonly known as the West, is a list of regions of Canada, region of Canada that includes the four provinces and territories o ...
twinned with
Odessa, Ukraine Odessa (russian: Оде́сса ) or Odesa ( uk, Оде́са ) is the third most populous List of cities in Ukraine, city and List of hromadas of Ukraine, municipality in Ukraine and a major tourism center, seaport and transport hub located in th ...
in 1944 was the first in Canada and second in North America while twinned with
Brest, France Brest (; ) is a port city in the Finistère département in Brittany. Located in a sheltered bay not far from the western tip of the peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French ...
was the second twinned city in the United States.
Liberal, Kansas Liberal is the county seat A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or Parish (administrative division), civil parish. The term is used in Canada, China, Romania, Hungary and the United States. C ...
was twinned with Olney, United Kingdom in 1950, and the cities have run a joint Pancake Day race ever since. Littleton, CO twinned with Bega, Australia, in 1961.
Tashkent russian: Ташкент , other_name = , settlement_type = Capital city, Capital , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top: Skyline of Tashkent, Hilton ...
, the capital city of Uzbekistan, was twinned with
Seattle Seattle ( ) is a seaport The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Barcola The thumb is the first digit of the hand, next to the index finger. When a person is standing in the medical anatomical position (where the palm is facing to the front) ...

Seattle
, Washington, in 1973.
Rochester, Minnesota Rochester is a city founded in 1854 in the U.S. state of Minnesota and is the county seat of Olmsted County, Minnesota, Olmsted County located on the Zumbro River's south fork in Southeast Minnesota. It is Minnesota's third-largest city and the ...
, and
Knebworth Knebworth is a village and civil parishes in England, civil parish in the north of Hertfordshire, England, immediately south of Stevenage. The civil parish covers an area between the villages of Datchworth, Woolmer Green, Codicote, Kimpton, Hertf ...
, UK, are both centers for primary medical research, and they twinned in 1967.
Ontario, California Ontario is a city in southwestern San Bernardino County, California, east of downtown Los Angeles Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) is the central business district of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, as well as a diverse neighborhood, resident ...
, has five sister cities around the world. They are Brockville, Ontario, Canada (since 1977), Guamúchil, Sinaloa, Mexico (since 1982), Mocorito, Sinaloa, Mexico (since 1982), Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico (since 1988), and Winterthur, Canton of Zürich, Switzerland.
Oakville, Ontario Oakville is a town in Halton Region The Regional Municipality of Halton, or Halton Region, is a regional municipality A regional municipality (or region) is a type of Canadian municipal government similar to and at the same municipal ...
, is twinned with
Dorval, Quebec Dorval () is an on-island suburb on the island of Montreal in southwestern Quebec ) , image_map = Quebec in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = Quebec Fren ...
, Huai'an, China, and
Neyagawa, Osaka is a located in , , that was founded May 3, 1951. As of April 2017, the city has an estimated of 236,758 and a of 9,600 persons per km². The total area is 24.73 km². Neyagawa entered a relationship with (US), in 1982, and with (Can ...
, Japan. Town twinning begins for a variety of reasons. Generally, partner towns have similar demographics and size. They may arise from business connections, travel, similar industries, diaspora communities, or shared history. For example, the partnership between
Portland, Oregon Portland (, ) is the list of cities in Oregon, largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Oregon, and the county seat, seat of Multnomah County, Oregon, Multnomah County. It is a major port in the Willamette Valley region of the Pacif ...

Portland, Oregon
, and
Bologna Bologna (, , ; egl, label=Bolognese Bologna (, , ; egl, label=Bolognese dialect, Bolognese, Bulåggna ; lat, Bonōnia) is the capital and largest city of the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy. It is the seventh most populous ...

Bologna
, Italy, arose from shared industries in
biotechnology Biotechnology is a broad area of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Phy ...

biotechnology
and education, and a "similar attitude towards food", whereas
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name ...

Chicago
's link with
Warsaw Warsaw, * la, Varsovia (Polish language, Polish: ''Warszawa'' ), officially the Capital City of Warsaw, is the capital and List of cities and towns in Poland, largest city of Poland. The metropolis stands on the Vistula, River Vistula in e ...

Warsaw
, Poland began with Chicago's historic Polish community. The twinning of
Indianapolis Indianapolis (), colloquially known as Indy, is the List of U.S. state and territorial capitals, state capital and List of U.S. states' largest cities by population, most-populous city of the U.S. state of Indiana and the county seat, seat of ...

Indianapolis
with
Monza Monza (, ; lmo, label=Lombard language, Lombard, Monça, locally ; lat, Modoetia) is a city and ''comune'' on the River Lambro, a tributary of the Po River, Po in the Lombardy region of Italy, about north-northeast of Milan. It is the capit ...

Monza
, Italy, is due to both cities' long association with
auto racing Auto racing (also known as car racing, motor racing, or automobile racing) is a motorsport Motorsport, motorsports or motor sport is a global term used to encompass the group of competitive Sports, sporting events which primarily invol ...
. A twin towns program was instituted in the United States in 1956 when President
Dwight D. Eisenhower Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American military officer An officer is a member of an armed forces or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. In its broadest sense, the term " ...
proposed a citizen diplomacy initiative.
Sister Cities International Sister Cities International (SCI) is a nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, public or s ...
(SCI) was originally a program of the
National League of Cities The National League of Cities (NLC) is an advocacy organization in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located ...
, but it became a separate corporation in 1967 due to the growth and popularity of the program. Twin town cultural events include the annual
National Cherry Blossom Festival The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a spring celebration in Washington, D.C., commemorating the March 27, 1912, gift of Japanese cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City was a municipality A municipality is usually a si ...
in Washington, D.C. honoring Washington's twin relationship with
Tokyo City was a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as ...
. Many twinned towns developed business agreements with their partners. For example,
Vermont Vermont () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Vermont
's
Ben & Jerry's Ben & Jerry's Homemade Holdings Inc., trading and commonly known as Ben & Jerry's, is a Vermont company that manufactures ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbet. It was founded in 1978 in Burlington, Vermont, and sold in 2000 to British conglomera ...

Ben & Jerry's
Ice Cream company opened a factory in the
Republic of Karelia The Republic of Karelia (russian: Респу́блика Каре́лия, Respublika Kareliya, rʲɪˈspublʲɪkə kɐˈrʲelʲɪ(j)ə; krl, Karjalan tazavaldu; fi, Karjalan tasavalta; vep, Karjalan Tazovaldkund), or Karelia (russian: Кар ...
in Russia and offered the same profit-sharing plan to its Russian employees.


Asia

China's sister city relationships are managed by the
Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries The Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC, or in short) is one of the three major foreign affairs ''Foreign Affairs'' is an American magazine of international relations and U.S. foreign policy published b ...
. Town twinning is supported in Japan by the
Council of Local Authorities for International Relations The Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) is a Japanese government-affiliated general incorporated foundation established in 1988 to support the international activities of local governments to strengthen international col ...
, a joint agency of local governments established by the Japanese government in 1988 (similar to
Sister Cities International Sister Cities International (SCI) is a nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, public or s ...
, its counterpart in the US). In Japan, the international city relations may be split into multiple terms, such as Sister Cities, Friendship Cooperation Cities, Business Partner Cities (BPC), Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Sister Ports / Friendship Ports, etc. Friendship Cooperation Cities are mostly used between Japan and China instead of Sister Cities due to the Japanese and Chinese words for sisters being written as "姉妹 / 姐妹" (reading : shimai / jiemei, literally big sister and young sister) and both sides wants to avoid making the relationship seems hierarchical. More recently, Tokyo has begun to actively promote 'city diplomacy' with other global cities at the initiative of its governor
Yoichi MasuzoeYoichi may refer to: * Yōichi, Japanese given name *, district in Shiribeshi, Hokkaidō Prefecture, Japan *, town in Yoichi District *, a Japanese whisky distillery in the town *, train station in Yoichi District * also Yoichi is a masculine Japane ...
.


Linguistic reasons

Relationships between communities can also arise because of shared names; they may be named after one community (as in the case of Córdoba), they may share names (as in the case of
Santiago de Compostela Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community In Spain, an autonomous community ( es, comunidad autónoma) is a first-level political divisions of Spain, political and administrative division, created in accordance with the S ...
), or their names may have a common
etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English ''The'' () is a grammatical article Article often refers to: * Article (grammar) An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases to mark the identi ...
. These similarities usually arise from sharing the same or related language or having been a colony or previously conquered.


Political significance

Twinning towns and cities is sometimes done for political purposes. The Hungarian city Gyöngyös was twinned with the Azerbaijani city of
Shusha / hy, Շուշի , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = ShushaCollection2021.jpg , image_alt = , image_caption = Landmarks of Shusha, from top left:Ghazanchet ...

Shusha
in 2013, signing the twinning agreement with representatives from the Azerbaijani government; Hungary recognised Shusha as ''
de jure In law and government, ''de jure'' ( ; , "by law") describes practices that are legally recognized, regardless of whether the practice exists in reality. In contrast, ("in fact") describes situations that exist in reality, even if not legally ...
'' part of Azerbaijan, even though it was controlled at the time and until 2020 by the military forces of
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is ...

Armenia
and the unrecognised Artsakh. An attempt was made in 2003 by
Preston Preston is a place name, surname and given name that may refer to: Places England *Preston, Lancashire, an urban settlement **The City of Preston, Lancashire, a borough and non-metropolitan district which contains the settlement **County Borou ...
city councillors in England to twin with the Palestinian town of
Nablus Nablus ( ; ar, نابلس, Nābulus ; he, שכם, Šəḵem, Biblical ''Shechem'', ISO 259-3 ''Škem''; el, Νεάπολις, Νeápolis) is a city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem (approximately by road), with a ...

Nablus
in the name of solidarity. Turkey bans partnerships with any city in a country that recognizes the
Armenian genocide The Armenian Genocide (Terminology of the Armenian Genocide, other names) was the systematic mass murder and ethnic cleansing of around 1 million ethnic Armenians from Asia Minor and adjoining regions by the Ottoman Empire and its ruling ...

Armenian genocide
. As a result, when Bulgaria recognized the genocide in 2016, some twin agreements such as
Edirne Edirne (, ), formerly known as Adrianople or Hadrianopolis (), is a city in Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the ...
Haskovo Haskovo ( bg, Хасково ) is a List of cities and towns in Bulgaria, city in the region of Northern Thrace in southern Bulgaria and the administrative centre of the Haskovo Province, not far from the borders with Greece and Turkey. According ...

Haskovo
were terminated by Turkey. In November 2020, U.S. senator
Marsha Blackburn Marsha Blackburn (née Wedgeworth; born June 6, 1952) is an American politician and businesswoman serving as the senior United States Senate, United States senator from Tennessee, a seat she has held since 2019. She is a member of the Republican ...

Marsha Blackburn
introduced legislation, the Sister City Transparency Act, to provide federal oversight to mitigate risks of sister city agreements being used for political influence campaigns.


Termination

* In 2012, the city of
Nanjing Nanjing (; , Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, a sub-provincial city, a megacity and the List ...

Nanjing
suspended their sister city relationship with
Nagoya } is the largest city in the Chūbu region The , Central region, or is a region in the middle of Honshū , historically called , is the largest and most populous main island of Japan , image_flag = Flag of J ...

Nagoya
after
Nanjing Massacre denial Nanjing Massacre denial is the denial that Imperial Japan The was a historical nation-state that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 until the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of Japan, 1947 constitution and subse ...
ist statements by Nagoya's mayor, Takashi Kawamura (politician), Takashi Kawamura. * In 2013, the Italian cities of Milan, Venice, and Turin, formerly twinned with Saint Petersburg, suspended their links due to Russian gay propaganda law, Russia's passage of anti-gay legislation. Activists in California circulated petitions urging California cities and counties with relationships with Russian counterparts to take similar steps. * In 2014, Prague terminated its partnership with Saint Petersburg and Moscow because of the 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine, Russian military intervention in Ukraine. Moscow had been Prague's partner city since 1995. * In 2017, the mayor of Osaka, Hirofumi Yoshimura, ended the city's 60-year relationship with San Francisco due to the erection of a San Francisco Comfort Women Memorial, memorial to comfort women in downtown San Francisco. Similarly, the cities of Glendale, California and Higashiōsaka, Japan came close to terminating their twinning in 2013 and 2014 because of an ongoing dispute over Glendale's support for the erection of a statue dedicated to Korean comfort women in a city park. * In July 2020, the town council of Nieuwegein, a Dutch city south of Utrecht, voted to end its friendship with Puławy in eastern Poland, citing "LGBT-free zone, gay free zones" as the reason.


Gallery


Louisville sistercities.jpg, Louisville, Kentucky, Louisville's twin towns Kralupy nad Vltavou CZ twin towns 086.jpg, Insignia of twin towns on town hall in Kralupy nad Vltavou, Czech Republic. Direction signs - Plovdiv's sister cities, Bulgaria.JPG, Plovdiv, Bulgaria twin towns directions Twin town signs Kemi 20110627.JPG, Twin town signs of Kemi, Finland Tawau Sabah Twin-Town-Memorial-01.jpg, Twin town monument in Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia Concord-Kitakami sister city sign.jpg, Artwork produced by Japanese and American citizens to celebrate the sister city relationship between Concord, California, Concord, and Kitakami, Iwate, Kitakami Holon Twin cities.JPG, Holon, Israel, a twin towns garden Welcome to Glastonbury - geograph.org.uk - 1114993.jpg, Welcome to Glastonbury, UK - Twin towns Lalibela, Ethiopia and Patmos, Greece SporazumSuresnes.jpg, Kragujevac and
Suresnes Suresnes () is a Communes of France, commune in the western suburbs of Paris, Île-de-France. Located in Hauts-de-Seine, from the centre of Paris, it had a population of 49,145 as of 2016. The nearest communes are Nanterre, Puteaux, Rueil-Malmais ...
twinning agreement Zalaegerszeg testvérvárosait jelző tábla.jpg, Zalaegerszeg, Hungary twinnings


See also

*
Council of Local Authorities for International Relations The Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) is a Japanese government-affiliated general incorporated foundation established in 1988 to support the international activities of local governments to strengthen international col ...
* Cross-border town naming *
Douzelage The Douzelage is a town twinning association with one town from each of the member states of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are locat ...
* Global city * Lists of twin towns and sister cities * List of twin towns and sister cities in Europe * Paradiplomacy * Partnership2Gether *
Sister Cities International Sister Cities International (SCI) is a nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, public or s ...
* Twin cities


References


External links


Town twinning in Europe's municipalities, towns and regions

Twinning in Europe

UK Town Twinning Portal
* {{Authority control Municipal international relations International relations Types of towns Cities by type Cultural exchange