Sister Cities

Sister Cities Initiative

Pittsburgh’s Sister Cities Initiative is designed to develop vibrant international partnerships and networks, share best practices through sustained people-to-people connections, and promote Pittsburgh as a dynamic global city.

As the world becomes smaller and smaller, communities and individuals must increase their global understanding and international engagement. Sister Cities can serve as a mechanism for the creation and development of international partnerships that foster economic development, cross-cultural exchanges, and global cooperation.


EisenhowerThe Sister City movement in the United States was launched by President Eisenhower in 1956 as the “People-to-People Program,” whose purpose was to establish friendship and deepen understanding between the people of the United States and the peoples of other nations through direct contact. Founded in 1956 as a direct outgrowth of President Eisenhower’s initiative, Sister Cities International was formed. It is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that serves as the national membership organization for individual Sister Cities, counties, and states across the United States. This network unites tens of thousands of citizen diplomats and volunteers in 140 countries on six continents.

In the United States, “Sister Cities” denotes the formal relationship between two communities consummated by the signature of the mayors of both cities and recognized by Sister Cities International. “Friendship city” relationships refer to a partnership that is less formal and more limited in scope. The establishment of a friendship city relationship can be an important step in building the foundation for a long-term vibrant and sustainable Sister City relationship.

A Sister City relationship is created when a municipality decides to partner with a municipality in another country to deepen global understanding, learn from each another through the exchange of “best practices,” and to develop meaningful long-term economic, educational, and cultural exchanges. A Sister City is a sustained formal partnership between to communities. These partnerships have the potential to serve as the foundation for a diverse range of activities, and include every type of local government, business, professional, educational, and cultural exchanges or projects.

Pittsburgh’s Existing Sister Cities

Since the 1950s, the City of Pittsburgh has established 20 Sister City partnerships: 

  • Bilbao, Spain
  • Donetsk, Ukraine
  • Fernando de la Mora, Paraguay
  • Karmiel, Israel
  • Matanzas, Cuba
  • Misgav, Israel
  • Omiya, Japan
  • Ostrava, Czech Republic
  • Presov, Slovakia
  • Saarbrucken, Germany
  • Saitama City (Urawa), Japan
  • San Isidro, Nicaragua
  • Sheffield, United Kingdom
  • Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Wuhan, China
  • Zagreb, Croatia
  • Skopje, Macedonia
  • Da Nang, Vietnam
  • Naucalpan, Mexico
  • Gaziantep, Turkey

Read the Council’s Blog about Pittsburgh’s newest Sister City – Gaziantep, Turkey: