“The origin of modern diplomacy was in
the relations between cities. Today, cities are
our conduits for world trade, our main
communicators of culture, and a proven
training ground for future world leadership.
The Sister City programs help provide a means
by which all of these important assets can be
made more meaningful.”

Q.What is a Sister City?

A.Formally, when a community of any size decides to join with a community in another nation to learn more about one another, and to develop friendly meaningful exchanges, the two communities propose a formal affiliation leading to official designation as “Sister Cities”.

Q.How does a city become an official Sister City?

A.A Sister City, county, municipality, oblast, prefecture, province, region, state, territory, town, or village relationship becomes official with the signing of a formal agreement by the top elected officials of the two jurisdictions – usually the Mayor or City Council. This is typically done during an official ceremony in one of the communities (usually at City Hall), following approval by the local city councils (county commissions or state legislatures), as appropriate. In Denver, it’s directly through the Mayor’s office. Therefore, a Sister City relationship is a broad-based, officially approved, long-term partnership between two communities in two different countries.

Q.Is a Sister City the same thing as a Twin City?

A.Yes, there are various terms are used to describe a long-term partnership between two communities: sister cities (United States, Mexico), twin cities (Russia, United Kingdom), friendship cities (as with relations between Japanese and Chinese cities), partnerstadt (Germany), and jumelage (France). However, all denote the same concept of partnered communities, or “Sister Cities.”

Q.How many Sister City relationships are there in the United States?

A.According to statistics from Sister Cities International, there are 545 different U.S. cities who currently have active Sister City programs – which, in turn, represent 2,121 partnerships around the world. In Denver, we truly are proud to be part of a global network.

Q.What makes a successful Sister Cities program?

A.Commitment, creativity, cooperation, and communication are at the heart of all successful Sister City programs. It takes solid support and involvement from all sectors of society, including city hall and grassroots citizens groups. All Sister City programs should likewise promote the inclusion of ethnic and racial minorities, people with disabilities, youth, women, and people of varied socio-economic backgrounds.

Q.When is Denver getting their next Sister City … and so on?

A.We’re content with what we have! In all seriousness, we’re continually looking for Sister City partners that would be a good cultural, economic, and social fit for the people and City of Denver. Opportunities to grow are always present.

Q.If a city abroad is interested in forming a new Sister City relationship with the City of Denver, how do they “apply?”

A.The Sister City selection process is very strategic and competitive.  The Denver Sister Cities’ Board determines the potential for a successful linkage between Denver and an applicant city from around the world. This decision is based on the following: municipal compatibility; existence of a core group of committed individuals to develop and maintain the relationship in Denver (an applicant sponsor group); the applicant city’s enthusiasm and commitment; and, documentation that communicates potential for successful facilitation of cultural, civic, educational, technical, economic, and business initiatives that are of mutual benefit. Cities interested in fostering a Sister City relationship with Denver may contact us for more information.

Q.Are there Sister City programs in other Colorado towns?

A.Yes. While Denver has the largest Sister City program in the Rocky Mountain region, the state of Colorado is fortunate to have many other Sister City relationships, including those in: Arvada (Kyzylorda, Kazakhstan; Mechelen Belgium), Aspen (Chamonix, France; Davos, Switzerland, Garmisch, Germany; Queenstown, New Zealand; San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina; Shimukaapu, Japan), Aurora (Adama, Ethiopia; Seongnam, South Korea; Zielona, Poland), Boulder (Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Jalapa, Nicaragua; Lhasa, Tibet; Ciudad, Mexico; Yamagata, Japan; Yateras, Cuba), Brighton (Ziebec, Poland), Broomfield (Ueda, Japan), Canon City (Kahoku, Japan), Colorado Springs (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; Fujiyoshida, Japan; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Nuevo Casas Grandes, Mexico; Smolensk, Ukraine), Ft. Collins (Alcalá de Henares, Spain), Lakewood (Chester, U.K.; Portsmouth, U.K.; Stade, Germany; Sutherland, Australia), Longmont, (Chino, Japan; Ciudad Guzmán, Mexico) Pueblo (Bergamo, Italy; Chihuahua, Mexico; Lucca Sicula, Italy; Maribor, Slovenia; Puebla, Mexico; Weifang, China) and Vail (St. Moritz, Switzerland). There is an annual regional conference for all Colorado Sister City participants to share best practices.

Q.Do the Denver Mayors personally visit the Sister Cities?

A.Yes. While hometown obligations make foreign travel challenging, each Mayor has been to at least one of Denver’s Sister Cities. In fact, Mayor Wellington Webb has visited five of the ten cities. At least once a year, a City delegation will go abroad or will come to Denver. Often times the visits will coincide with business opportunities, cultural milestones, Sister City anniversary celebrations, humanitarian needs, and so forth. In the Mile High City, we are always thrilled to host our Sister City neighbors.

Q.This sounds like an amazing organization. Why haven’t I heard about you before?

A.We like to joke we’re one of Denver’s best-kept secrets …. but the truth is we’re just finding our outdoor voice. As one of Sister City’s oldest non-profits, we have a charitable heritage and tens of thousands of members on our side. We were solely volunteer-run from 1948 to 2013, and volunteers are still at the core who drive us forward. With a renewed brand and communications strategy, we’re getting the word out. Do tell all your friends.