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Meet Seattle’s sister cities

Seattle has 20 sister cities that span from Reykjavik, Iceland to Mombasa, Kenya to Kobe, Japan.

A view of Seattle's waterfront from across the bay.

There’s a lot of beautiful things to share about our city.

Photo by Garrett Morrow

Hey sista, go sista, soul sista, flow sista. That’s right — we’re talking to each one of Seattle’s 20 sister cities.

Seattle’s sister city program was founded in 1957 with Kobe, Japan. At that time, the partnership was one of the first of its kind in the world after President Dwight Eisenhower created the national program in 1956.

Since then, Seattle has added 19 other cities to our list of civic siblings:

  • Be’er Sheva, Israel
  • Bergen, Norway
  • Cebu, Philippines
  • Chongqing, China
  • Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Daejeon, Korea
  • Galway, Ireland
  • Gdynia, Poland
  • Haiphong, Vietnam
  • Kaohsiung, Taiwan
  • Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  • Limbe, Cameroon
  • Mombasa, Kenya
  • Nantes, France
  • Pécs, Hungary
  • Perugia, Italy
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Kampong Saom, Cambodia
  • Surabaya, Indonesia
  • Kobe, Japan

So what is a sister city, anyway? Let’s talk about it.

Two photos of the Galway Stone are shown here — the first is a close-up of the stone's marker that points through the Earth to Galway. The second is of the rock in its setting along Alaskan Way.

The Galway Stone sits in a little alcove next to the World Trade Center on Alaskan Way.

Photo by SEAtoday Staff

The love runs deep

The nature of a sister city relationship varies between each distinct partnership, but most involve an agreement to share cultural, financial, and educational resources with each other.

For example, the winners of Seattle and Kobe’s Jazz Queen try-outs get to fly out to perform in the respective sibling city.

And both Seattle and Galway share identical stone sculptures that point at each other through the Earth’s crust.

We’ve also invested in the buildings of school libraries and sponsored trade investment opportunities in Kampong Saom.

Where the program stands now

In 1996, the Seattle City Council established a moratorium on adding more locations to the sister city program. This was done to conserve the city’s resources and make sure that we’re contributing meaningfully to the partnerships we already have.

But the 20 partnerships are still plenty fruitful today. Check back as we dive into each one of our sister cities in the months to come.