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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Sacramento has a total of 12 “sister cities” located all around the world, part of the international program that brings different communities together.

Sister Cities International was founded in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to create global relationships based on cultural, educational, informational and trade exchanges.

According to the Sister Cities website, a sister city is a relationship between two communities in two different countries. The relationship “is recognized after the highest elected or appointed official from both communities sign off an agreement to become sister cities.”

Sister cities develop from a variety of sources, including pre-existing mayoral relationships, trade relationships, historical connections, ancestral/demographic connections, expatriate communities, shared geographic/sector challenges, faith-based groups, and personal experiences ranging from study/work abroad to marriages.

There is no limit to the number of sister cities a city can have and community involvement varies depending on the city. Sister city organizations can have representatives from nonprofits, governments, the private sector, and other organizations.

Sacramento’s 12 sister cities are:

  • Ashkelon, Israel
  • Chisinau, Moldova
  • Hamilton, New Zealand
  • Jinan, China
  • Liestal, Switzerland
  • Manila, Philippines
  • Matsuyama, Ehime
  • Mexicali, Mexico
  • Pasay, Philippines
  • San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua
  • Valencia, Spain
  • Yongsan, South Korea

Sacramento and Hamilton, New Zealand were officially recognized as sister cities on May 25, 1988. It was later endorsed by the Sacramento City Council on December 6, 1988, according to the Hamilton-Sacramento sister city corporation.

The Ashkelon Sacramento Facebook page notes that Ashkelon, Israel became Sacramento’s 10th sister city on August 14, 2012 after the Sacramento City Council unanimously voted yes.

According to the Jinan Sacramento sister city corporation, Jinan was officially recognized as Sacramento’s sister city on October 16, 1984. It was established as a non-profit organization and was sponsored by the Office of the Mayor.

Each sister city organization is independent, and “pursues the activities and thematic areas that are important to them and their community including municipal, business, trade, educational, and cultural exchanges and projects with their sister city.”

According to the Sister Cities website, all members are independent organizations and are run by different groups. They can be run by volunteers, representatives from local institutions, the mayor’s office or even a combination of these. However, a majority of sister cities are run by nonprofits but the government may have some relationship with the group.  

Some sister cities are run by local institutions such as a museum, cultural center or chamber of commerce. According to the Sister Cities website, a majority of “municipal contacts for sister city organizations are in the office of the mayor, office of tourism/convention and visitors bureau, office of international affairs, office of protocol, or office of economic development.”

The purpose of a sister city is to “promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation, one individual, one community at a time.”