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What is Town Twinning?

Diana Bocco
Updated May 23, 2024
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Town twinning, also known as partnering towns or sister cities, refers to the concept of pairing cities across the globe as a way to foster human and cultural links among nations. The first official twinning happened in 1930 between the cities of Klagenfurt, Austria and Wiesbaden, Germany. However, it wasn't until after WWII that this actually became a popular practice.

Developed in Europe as a way of creating friendship ties and understanding between the countries affected by the war, town twinning quickly spread to other continents as well. In 1944, Vancouver became the first city to be paired with a transatlantic sister city, when it was linked to Odessa, in Ukraine. The pairing was a great way for both cities to provide support to each other during the war.

Town twinning is considered such an important concept that the European Union allocates about 12 million Euros a year to promote it. This often leads to cultural collaborations and economic trades, as well as frequent student exchanges.

Town twinning often pairs cities that share some common characteristics, such as similar demographics, same names, or similar development issues. For example, Toledo, Spain and Toledo, Ohio, are twin cities. Certain countries have preferences when selecting cities. For example, 50 percent of the twinnings established in the United Kingdom are with France.

There are no specific guidelines as to the number of town twinnings a city can have. For example, the city of Las Vegas has only one town twinning pairing, with Banes, Cuba. On the other hand, New York City has fifteen twin cities: Tokyo, Madrid, Beijing, Cairo, Rome, Budapest, Sydney, Jerusalem, Santo Domingo, London, Amsterdam, Toronto, Bogota, and Johannesburg.

Town twinning is a very popular system with students and young people, as youth clubs, junior colleges, and voluntary groups often organize exchanges between the paired cities. Most cities have a twinning association, which runs the local community and deals with anything that has to do with exchanges between the sister cities. Many cities also work hard to establish new links with other cities to extend the network.

CulturalWorld.org is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diana Bocco
By Diana Bocco , Former Writer
Diana Bocco, a versatile writer with a distinct voice, creates compelling long-form and short-form content for various businesses. With a data-focused approach and a talent for sharing engaging stories, Diana’s written work gets noticed and drives results.

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Diana Bocco

Diana Bocco

Former Writer

Diana Bocco, a versatile writer with a distinct voice, creates compelling long-form and short-form content for various...
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