Philadelphia’s eleven Sister City relationships provide economic, educational, cultural, and diplomatic opportunities for hundreds of citizen diplomats every year – from students to established professionals to entrepreneurs.
We are a proud member of Sister Cities International. A Sister City relationship is a broad-based, long-term partnership between two cities in different countries. Philadelphia is officially linked with 11 Sister Cities and one "Partners for Peace" city—Mosul, Iraq.
Partnerships Strengthen Cities
At the heart of the Sister Cities program is an agreement signed by the mayors of each city affirming their commitment, and that of their successors, to the program. Each Sister City agrees to send and receive delegations of political and business leaders, arts and cultural representatives, educators, technical experts, and students.
The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, united with Citizen Diplomacy International, works with the City of Philadelphia and corporate partners to facilitate official exchanges. Each Sister City is also supported by volunteers who are committed to the goals and objectives of the program.
Our Sister Cities
Partnership Began: May 27, 1976
Toruń is a historical city on the Vistula River in north-central Poland. Its medieval district is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Major industries include chemical, food industry, electro-machine industry, furniture, clothing and printing.
Philadelphia and Torun have an exemplary Sister City High School Exchange Program that dates back to 1976. Over the years, this exchange has involved a number of high schools and touched the lives of hundreds of students and teachers. Student projects have included culinary classes, dance lessons and performances, history studies and presentations, and painting murals. Highlights of these exchanges have included tours of Warsaw, Gdansk, Krakow, Sofat, visiting historic sites including Auschwitz Concentration Camp, as well as attending special lectures and demonstrations at Polish universities and Technical Colleges.
Partnership Began: December 6, 1979
Central Tianjin lies about 75 miles southeast of central Beijing. Tianjin’s major industries include electronics, IT, automotive, biotech, pharmaceuticals, and petrochemicals. It is noted for its woven handicraft products, terra-cotta figurines, hand-painted woodblock prints, and extensive seafood cuisine.
The Philadelphia Orchestra has performed numerous times in Tianjin, and students from Tianjin and Philadelphia participated in the Sister Cities International Young Artists Showcase.
Partnership Began: October 27, 1966
Tel Aviv is an economic and innovation hub, home to many international venture-capital firms, scientific research institutes and high-tech companies and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Tel Aviv has the second-largest economy in the Middle East after Dubai. Its industries include chemical processing, textile plants and food manufacturers. It is also the fifth-most-visited city in the Middle East & Africa.
Eight high school exchange trips have taken place between Philadelphia and Tel Aviv since this program was launched in 1995 with Abraham Lincoln High School, Central High School, Irony Aleph High School, Makef Yud Bet High School, and AMAL Schools.
Partnership Began: March 12, 1999
Aix-en-Provence is located in the plains of southern France, often said to be a city for culture lovers. In a previous exchange, a group of 23 people including 20 dancers, a Provencal chef and Cezanne lecturer visited Philadelphia for five days.
The relationship’s main focus is to promote Philadelphia’s tourism and education assets. Major industries include tourism, entertainment (opera and dance), the semiconductor and electronics industry, education and research, computer software industry, olive oil and chocolate.
Partnership Began: October 15, 1992
Nizhny Novgorod is Russia’s fifth-largest city and a key economic, transport, and cultural center in the Volga-Vyatka region. The Sister City relationship originated from a government grant that sent Ballard Spahr law firm members from Philadelphia to travel and teach residents in Nizhny Novgorod about economics and democracy.
Major industries include engineering, information technology, transportation, including the auto industry, shipbuilding, diesel engines, aircraft manufacture, and machine tools.
There have been several successful exchanges, including a summer exchange between Philadelphia and Nizhny Novgorod students culminated in Russian student Ignat Tyumentsev winning the Grand Prize in Sister Cities International’s Young Artists Showcase for his artwork “Travel Time”.
Partnership Began: October 17, 1986
Kobe is situated between the Rokko Mountains and the blue Seto Inland Sea and is where Kobe beef originates from, as well as one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts, Arima Onsen.
After a major earthquake struck the city in 1995, Kobe pushed to revitalize industrial areas on the waterfront and inland. Over 100 international corporations and numerous research institutes are headquartered in Kobe, making it a hub for innovation and biotech. Japan’s fourth busiest port, the city’s shipping is also a key economic driver.
One notable exchange was when Philadelphia’s String Theory Performing Arts Charter High School hosted students from Kobe Municipal Rokko Island High School and Fukiai Senior High School for an educational exchange to as part of the 30th Sister City Anniversary celebrations.
Partnership Began: August 15, 1983
Incheon is South Korea’s third most populous city and benefits economically from its proximity to Seoul. In 2003, Incheon was designated as Korea’s first free economic zone. Since then, large local companies and global enterprises have increasingly invested in the Incheon Free Economic Zone and it has steadily made strides to become a prominent business hub for Northeast Asia. Incheon’s major industries are iron, steel, light metals, plate-glass, textiles, chemicals and lumber.
There have been several notable exchanges. Two include students from Incheon and Philadelphia participated in the Sister Cities International Young Artists Showcase, as well as Bodine High School of International Affairs hosted a group of students from Incheon, allowing young citizen diplomats to share their experiences with one another.
Partnership Began: July 16, 2015
Frankfurt is the financial capital of Europe, and is home to the European Central Bank as well as one of the largest stock exchanges. Other leading sectors include IT, biotech, logistics and the creative industry. Frankfurt has held trade fairs since 1240 and currently hosts over 30 industry trade shows.
Nine high school exchange trips have taken place between Philadelphia and Frankfurt since this program was launched in 2017 with Science Leadership Academy, Carver HS of Engineering and Science, Friends Select School, Gymnasium Riedberg, Schule Am Ried, and Phorms Schule Frankfurt.
Partnership Began: October 1, 1964
Both cities are the first capitals of their respective countries: Philadelphia, PA the birthplace of the United States and Florence the birthplace of the Renaissance.
The first diplomatic interchange between the cities took place when Philadelphia clothing manufacturers donated five tons of clothing as part of a relief effort for Florentine flood victims. More recently, Firenze artisans visited Philadelphia to sell their crafts/products at Macy’s Grand Court in pop-up shops.
Major industries include fashion, tourism, research, mechanical, chemistry, and pharmaceuticals.
Partnership Began: September 24, 1986
Douala is Cameroon’s largest city and also the country’s financial capital, contributing more than 80 percent to the national earnings. In a previous exchange, Philadelphia CHOP doctors (Neonatology, Hematology, and Sickle cell Anemia division) and their counterparts at Hospital Laquintinie, Douala began monthly teleconferences to provide case consultations.
Douala’s deep-water port handles most of the country’s overseas trade. The countries’ major exports include oil, cocoa, coffee, timber, metals and fruits. Douala also houses breweries, textile factories, and palm-oil, soap, and food-processing plants. Other activities include boat and ship repair, railway engineering, and radio assembly.
Population: 1.312 million
Partnership Began: April 24, 1997
The Abruzzo region (L’Aquila, Chieti, Pescara and Teramo) in central Italy is just two hours drive east of Rome. Many Philadelphians’ heritage can be traced back to the Abruzzo region, creating a strong connection between our citizens. Exchanges between Philadelphia and Abruzzo are primarily cultural and educational.
Tourists are attracted to the region for hiking, skiing and rock climbing in the Apennine mountains, seaside resorts on the Adriatic Sea, historic castles, food and agriculture (wine, saffron, olive oil) and crafts (wrought iron, ceramics, fabrics and lace). Prominent industries in this region include agriculture and fishing, manufacturing, commerce and the service industry. Mechanical engineering firms and the automotive sector also have a strong presence in the region.
Learn more about Abruzzo here.
Sister Cities Park
At the intersection of 18th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway sits Sister Cities Park, a public green space that celebrates Philadelphia’s commitment to strengthening global economic ties and cultural understanding. Inspired by the Champs-Élysées and originally dedicated in 1976, the park was redesigned in 2011 to welcome people of all ages and better serve many different activities in the heart of Philly. The fountain’s ten geyser-like spouts represent our ten sister cities, with each positioned according to its global relationship to Philadelphia.
Sister Cities Park, which is managed and maintained by the Center City District, is a major destination for families with children, local school groups, nearby office workers, and Parkway visitors. The fountain, pond, and Children’s Discovery Garden draw large groups throughout the year. For more information on the park’s amenities, café, events, and rentals, visit click here.
The 2011 renovation of Sister Cities Park was undertaken in partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation, with funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the State Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Adding New Sister Cities
As much as we'd like to have a partnership in every country, Philadelphia is currently unable to accept additional Sister Cities due to the economics of maintaining our current relationships, which we are committed to strengthening. We hope to cultivate relationships with new Sister Cities in the future, however. When we do, large local ethnic communities and established organizations within those communities will be essential. To nominate a new city for consideration, please contact us.
The Sister Cities program is a legacy Citizen Diplomacy International program. As the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia and Citizen Diplomacy International merge into a united organization, we are proud to offer this program to Council and CDI networks.