Town twinning

Town twinning

Town twinning is a concept whereby towns or cities in geographically and politically distinct areas are paired, with the goal of fostering human contact and cultural links. In the European Union, such pairs of towns are known as friendship towns or partner towns and twin towns in the UK. In North America, India, Australasia and Asia, the term sister cities is used for the same concept and brother cities is the term in the former Soviet bloc. Sister cities often (though by no means always) have similar demographic and other characteristics. Sometimes, even larger areas enter into "twinning" agreements, such as that between the provinces of Hainan in China and Jeju in South Korea.


The earliest form of town twinning in Europe was between the German city of Paderborn and the French city of Le Mans in 836, although this was not officially established as a modern town twinning arrangement until 1967.

Coventry in England was the first ever city to "twin" with another city (Stalingrad, then in the Soviet Union) and hence began the modern practice of twinning.

The practice was continued after the Second World War as a way to bring European people into a closer understanding of each other and to promote cross-border projects of mutual benefit. For example, Coventry twinned with Dresden as an act of peace and reconciliation, both cities having been heavily bombed during the war. Each twin city country is represented in a specific ward of the city and in each ward has a peace garden dedicated to that twin city. Another early example of town twinning dates back to 1947 when Bristol Corporation (later Bristol City Council) sent five 'leading citizens' on a goodwill mission to Hanover. While still more popular as a concept in Europe than elsewhere, the idea has now spread to other continents.

Within Europe, town twinning is now supported by the European Union. The support scheme was established in 1989. In 2003 an annual budget of about 12 million euros 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.

E.U. sister cities are a separate affiliation from the international sister cities association.

In the UK, twinning is sometimes associated with junketing, as local dignitaries visit twinned towns. [ [ Preston's Twin Towns ] ] [ [ Town may look for a twin ] ]

North America

The first city in North America to establish a sister city relationship was Toledo, Ohio, United States, with Toledo, Spain in 1931. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada was also a notable city to enter into an intercontinental twinning arrangement when, in 1944, it twinned with the Ukrainian city of Odessa, which at the time was part of the Soviet Union. This was based on aiding the allied port city during the Second World War. Tashkent, an Uzbek city, then part of Soviet Union, was twinned with Seattle, USA in 1973 and became the first Soviet city to be twinned with one in the US. Another first for town twinning occurred in 1967 when Rochester, Minnesota and Knebworth, UK teamed up to bring a primary medical research front.

The American "Sister Cities" program was begun in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower. It was originally administered as part of the National League of Cities, but since 1967 it has been a separate organization, Sister Cities International (SCI), which is a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network creating and strengthening partnerships between U.S. and international communities in an effort to increase global cooperation at the municipal level, to promote cultural understanding and to stimulate private business and economic development. SCI leads the movement for local community development and volunteer action by motivating and empowering private citizens, municipal officials and business leaders to conduct long-term programs of mutual benefit. [ [ Sister Cities International - History] ]

Informal usage

Sometimes, people will use the phrase "sister cities" to mean cities that are neither very close together, nor from two different cultures and officially twinned, but rather two cities with similar cultures and/or historical background, as with Galveston, Texas and New Orleans, two cities that were historically major Southern ports on the Gulf coast. Another example is Charleston, South Carolina and Boston (see the Charleston article for a description of their colonial-era relationship). "Twin Towns"Fact|date=February 2008 is also used as a colloquialism for the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, specifically referring to the central twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.


ee also

* List of twin towns and sister cities
* Cross-border town naming
* Partnership 2000
* World City

External links

* [ Town-twinning information] from the European Commission
* [ Sister Cities International (cities twinned with cities in the USA)]
* [ Germany and the town twinning movement]

* [ Town twinning in Europe's municipalities, towns and regions]

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