Learn more about Town twinning
- This article is about partnerships between towns distant from each other; see Twin cities for the unrelated concept of physically neighbouring cities. See also Twin Town for the 1997 movie. Twin Cities is also an American colloquialism for the Minneapolis-St. Paul (Twin Cities) Metropolitan Area.
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 Europe, such pairs of towns are known as twin towns, friendship towns or, in German, partner towns (Partnerstädte); in North America and Australasia, the term sister cities is used for the same concept; and brother cities (города-побратимы) is the term in the former Soviet bloc. Twin towns 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 concept can be likened to a scaled up version of a "pen pal" scheme, in which the "pals" are whole towns or cities. In practice, the twinning arrangements often lead to student exchange programs, as well as economic and cultural collaborations.
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.
The practice of town twinning was developed in Europe 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. An 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, leading to some very interesting pairings.
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.
E.U. sister cities are a separate affiliation from the international sister cities associations.
 North America
The city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada was one of the first cities ever to enter into an international 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 World War II. However, Toledo, Ohio, and Toledo, Spain began a sister city relationship thirteen years earlier in 1931.
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.
 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, Louisiana, two cities that were historically major Southern ports on the Gulf coast. Another example is Charleston, South Carolina and Boston, Massachusetts (see the Charleston article for a description of their colonial-era relationship). "Twin Towns" is also used as a colloquialism for the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, specifically referring to the central twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
 See also
- List of twin towns and sister cities - a substantial, though incomplete, list of twinning arrangements, arranged by country.
- Cross-border town naming
- Partnership 2000
- International Association of Twinned Cities
 External links
- Town-twinning information from the European Commission
- Sister Cities International
- Germany and the town twinning movementbg:Побратимен град
cs:Partnerská města da:Venskabsbyer no:Vennskapsbyer de:Städtepartnerschaft es:Hermanamiento de ciudades eo:Ĝemelaj urboj fr:Jumelage is:Vinabæir he:ערים תאומות nl:Partnerstad ja:姉妹都市 la:coniunctio communium pl:Miasta partnerskie pt:Geminação de cidades ru:Породнённые города fi:Ystävyyskaupunki sv:Vänort th:เมืองพี่น้อง tr:Kardeş şehir zh:友好城市