TWIN TOWNS or SISTER CITIES are a form of legal or social agreement
between towns, cities, counties, oblasts , prefectures , provinces,
regions, states, and even countries in geographically and politically
distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties. The modern
concept of town twinning, conceived after the
Second World War
Second World War in
1947, was intended to foster friendship and understanding between
different cultures and between former foes as an act of peace and
reconciliation, and to encourage trade and tourism. In recent
times, town twinning has increasingly been used to form strategic
international business links between member cities.
* 1 Terminology
* 1.1 City diplomacy
* 2 Europe
* 3 North America
* 3.1 History
* 4 Asia
* 5 Linguistic reasons
* 6 Political purposes
* 7 Gallery
* 8 See also
* 9 References
* 10 External links
An example of a 'gemellaggio' (twinning) agreement between
Castellabate , Italy and
Blieskastel , Germany
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 uses the term "twinned
towns" and refers to the process as "town twinning". Spain uses the
term "ciudades hermanadas", which means "sister cities". Germany,
Poland, and the Czech Republic use _Partnerstadt_ (De) / _Miasto
Partnerskie_ (Pl) / _Partnerské město_ (Cz), which translate as
"Partner Town or City". France uses _Ville Jumelée_ (Twinned Town or
City), and Italy has _Gemellaggio_ (twinning) and _Comune gemellato_
(twinned municipality). In the Netherlands, the term is _Stedenband_
(Cities-bond). In Greece, the word αδελφοποίηση
(_adelfopiisi_ – fraternisation) has been adopted. In Iceland, the
terms _vinabæir_ (friend towns) and _vinaborgir_ (friend cities) are
used. In the former Soviet Bloc , "twin towns" and "twin cities" are
used, along with _города-побратимы_ (Ru) (sworn
The Americas, South Asia, and Australasia use the term "sister
cities" or "twin cities". In China, the term is 友好城市 (yǒuhǎo
chéngshì – friendship city). 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
is a town twinning association with one town from each of the member
states of the European Union.
In recent years, the term "city diplomacy" has gained increased usage
and acceptance, particularly as a strand of paradiplomacy and public
diplomacy . It is formally used in the workings of the United Cities
and Local Governments and the
C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and
recognised by the
USC Center on Public Diplomacy . A March 2014 debate
in the British
House of Lords
House of Lords acknowledged the evolution of town
twinning into city diplomacy, particularly around 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
World Economic Forum .
For a more comprehensive list, see List of twin towns and sister
cities in Europe . Column dedicated to Paris in Rome
The earliest known town twinning in Europe was between
Le Mans , France, in 836. Starting in 1905,
West Yorkshire, England, had a twinning arrangement with French
Puteaux . The first recorded modern
twinning agreement was between
Poix-du-Nord in Nord,
France, in 1920 following the end of the
First World War
First World War . 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
Second World War as a way to
promote mutual understanding and cross-border projects of mutual
benefit. For example,
Coventry twinned with Stalingrad and later
Dresden as an act of peace and reconciliation, all three cities
having been heavily bombed during the war. The City of Bath
formed an "
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 Corporation (later
Council) sent five 'leading citizens' on a goodwill mission to Hanover
. Reading in 1947 was the first British town to form links with a
former "enemy" city –
Düsseldorf . The link still exists
http://www.reading-dusseldorf.org.uk/). 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 € 12 million was allocated to about 1,300 projects. The
Council of European Municipalities and Regions 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). The painting of Gagny Sutton twin towns mural
The painting of Minden
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
Sutton , Greater London. The five main paintings show a number of the
main features of the
London Borough of Sutton and its four twin towns,
along with the heraldic shield of each above the other images. Each
painting also features a plant as a visual representation of its
town's environmental awareness . 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 , 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 , and
Oxford is with
Grenoble and other university cities.
Many former West German cities are twinned with former East German
cities; these twinning links were established before the fall of the
Iron Curtain . Famous examples are the partnerships of
Leipzig , both of which have important trade fair grounds , or between
Hamburg and Dresden. The first US-German town twinning was in 1947
Worthington, Minnesota and
Crailsheim . St Petersburg in
Russia holds the record for the largest number of partnership
arrangements with other communities. In June 2012, the Scottish
village of Dull and the US town of
Boring, Oregon , agreed to twin
their municipalities to promote tourism in both places, playing on
Recently some towns have made novelty twinning arrangements with
fictional or virtual locations.
Wincanton , England is partnered with
Terry Pratchett 's
Discworld books .
Town twinning has increasingly been used to form strategic
international business links. For example, in the 1990s, when the
Nottingham City Council in the UK considered installing a tram
network, it consulted experts from its twin city of
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. More recently
Bristol and New
Orleans have announced their intention to form a 'tuning' partnership
based on a shared musical heritage and culture offer, at the
Bristol Mayor George Ferguson .
Annecy , France and
Nerima , Tokyo have for several years shared a partnership based
around their "co-existent animation industry".
For a more comprehensive list, see List of twin towns and sister
cities in North America . Dull is twinned with Boring
The first city in North America to engage in town twinning was Toledo
, Ohio, which twinned with Toledo , Spain in 1931.
Vancouver , British
Columbia entered into an intercontinental twinning arrangement in 1944
Ukraine , which was part of the
Soviet Union at the
time. The initiative was based on Canada's aid to the allied port city
during the Second World War. Liberal , Kansas was twinned with Olney ,
Buckinghamshire in 1950, and the cities have run a joint Pancake Day
race ever since.
Tashkent , the capital city of Uzbekistan and also
formerly part of the Soviet Union, was twinned with
Washington in 1973. Another first for twin towns occurred in 1967
Rochester, Minnesota and
Knebworth , UK, both centres for
primary medical research.
Town twinning begins for a variety of reasons. Generally, partner
towns share 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 and
Bologna , Italy arose from shared industries in
biotechnology and education, appreciation for the arts, and a "similar
attitude towards food"; whereas Chicago's link with
Warsaw , Poland
began with Chicago's historic Polish community , and the twinning of
Monza , Italy is due to both cities' long
association with auto racing .
Los Angeles City Hall with twin towns signpost.
A twin towns program was instituted in the United States in 1956 when
Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed a people-to-people, citizen
diplomacy initiative. Originally a program of the National League of
Sister Cities International (SCI) became a separate
corporation in 1967 due to the growth and popularity of the US
program. SCI is now a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network that
creates and strengthens partnerships between communities in the US and
other countries, organises cultural exchanges, and provides support
and funding. Under its administration, more than 2,000 cities, states
and counties are partnered in 136 countries.
, in twin town
According to the SCI website, these exchanges include "musical
performances, art exhibits, construction of peace parks or tea
gardens, international cultural festivals, and teacher exchanges".
Twin town cultural events include the annual National Cherry Blossom
Festival in Washington, D.C., honouring Washington's twin relationship
Tokyo City . Capitalizing on the growing world economy, many
twinned towns developed business agreements with their partners. For
Vermont 's Ben all other continuing functions became part of
the organizational structure overseen by the purposefully established
Under Secretary of State for Public
Diplomacy and Public Affairs
United States Department of State (DoS). SCI is a leading
member of a consortium of non-profit NGOs that partner with the DoS
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), which was created as
part of this new organizational structure.
Through the grant funding, logistical support and other resources
made available through the ECA, SCI and other organisations develop,
administer and promote the United States Cultural Exchange Programs
(CEPs). One such CEP is the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study
Programs (Yes Programs), which sponsor students predominantly from the
Middle East to study for a year in the US. On a 2004 exchange, Arab
students from Gaza, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, Tunisia
and Yemen lived in the US for a year with host families and attended a
leadership summit in
Boulder, Colorado . To further the Yes Program's
Sister Cities International developed the Youth and Education
Network in 2004.
For a more comprehensive list, see List of twin towns and sister
cities in Asia .
Isfahan street in
Kuala Lumpur 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 ), or their names may
have a common etymology . Road sign of
Artieda de Aragón and
Emiliano Zapata, an autonomous Zapatista municipality.
These similarities usually arise from sharing the same or related
language, or from having been a colony or previously conquered.
Twinning towns and cities is sometimes done for political purposes.
The Hungarian city
Gyöngyös was twinned with the Azerbaijani city of
Shusha in 2013, signing the twinning agreement with representatives
from the Azerbaijani government; Hungary recognises
Shusha as part of
Azerbaijan, even though since the end of the
Karabakh War it has been
controlled by the military forces of
Armenia and the unrecognised
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (_de jure _ part of Azerbaijan). An attempt
was made in 2003 by Preston city councillors in England to twin with
the Palestinian town of
Nablus in the name of solidarity.
Recently, city partnership termination—not just creation—started
to be used for political purposes. In 2013,
formerly twinned with
Saint Petersburg , suspended their links due to
St Petersburg's ban on "promotion of homosexuality to minors". Other
cities considered similar steps, namely Los Angeles and
where the campaign is led by Carl Katter . The cities of Glendale,
Higashiosaka , Japan came close to terminating their
twinning in 2013/14 on account of an ongoing dispute over Glendale's
support for the erection of a statue dedicated to Korean comfort women
in a city park. In 2014,
Prague terminated its partnership with Saint
Petersburg and Moscow because of the Russian military intervention in
Ukraine. Moscow had been Prague's partner city since 1995.
Louisville 's twin towns
Coats of arms of the twin towns
Szamotuły , Poland and
Aubergenville , France Villes jumelées
Bilingual sign in
Insignia of twin towns on town hall in
Kralupy nad Vltavou , Czech
Sign in the United Kingdom showing the twinning of Epping , England
Eppingen in Germany.
Plovdiv , Bulgaria twin towns directions
Ottobrunn , Germany _Partnerschaftsschild_ Partner cities
Four twinning towns of
Brzeg Dolny , Poland
Twin town signs of
Kemi , Finland
Sign denoting twin towns of
Zaventem , Belgium twin towns
Twin town monument in
Tawau , Sabah, Malaysia
Sweden twin towns
Yalta , Crimea and
Santa Barbara, California are twin towns
Coats of arms of Weinsberg's twin towns Carignan , France and
Costigliole d\'Asti , Italy
Twin towns sign in
Osijek , Croatia
Bełchatów , Poland's twin towns
Holon , Israel, a twin towns garden
The coats of arms of the twin towns of
Dundee , UK, with their
Worms , Germany partner cities sign
Glastonbury , UK - Twin towns
Lalibela , Ethiopia and
Patmos , Greece
Town twinning commemoration,
Godalming , UK
Rimini , Italy's twin towns
'50 years of town twinning', German stamp from 1997
50th Anniversary celebrations twin towns
Suresnes , France and
Suresnes twinning agreement
Rochester NY Sister Cities Bridge and Chamber of Commerce
Chinatown, Philadelphia . The arch built in Qing Dynasty style, using
Philadelphia 's twin town,
Tianjin , China
Partnership shield in
Ilmenau , Germany
Sign showing twin towns of
Pápa , Hungary
Exeter . Named after one of Exeter's twin towns
Twin towns garden in
Montigny-le-Bretonneux , France twinnings
Melun , France twinnings
Wołów , Poland's MiG-17 twin town direction sign to
Zalaegerszeg , Hungary twinnings
Tbilisi Platz in Saarbrücken , Germany
Créteil , France twinnings
Council of Local Authorities for International Relations
Cross-border town naming
Lists of twin towns and sister cities
List of twin towns and sister cities in Europe
Most Ancient European Towns Network
Sister Cities International
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