About Us

About SOCAL Sister Cities



logo_goldPromoting Mutual Respect and Understanding

The “twinning” of cities first began in 836 between Paderborn, Germany and Le Mans, France. This system became better known with the establishment of the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA), a Netherlands-based organization founded in 1913 in The Hague. The first twinning of cities in the United States occurred in 1944 between Wichita, Kansas and Orleans, France.  

President Dwight D. Eisenhower was introduced to this system through his brother Milton, the President of Kansas State University. President Eisenhower liked the idea of cities twinning themselves with cities, people becoming involved with people, and families becoming families with their twinned counterparts overseas. Through this concept, President Eisenhower hoped for world peace to be realized through the establishment of the Sister City Program in 1956. 

Since 1956, the network of Sister Cities International has grown to unite tens of thousands of citizen diplomats and volunteers in programs through over 2,300 cities in 150 countries on six continents, with cities in the United States.  

Sister Cities of Los Angeles
Sister Cities of Los Angeles

Sister Cities was originally adopted by the League of Cities, an organization to which all of the cities in the United States belong, until 1970 when Sister Cities International could establish its own headquarters in Washington, D.C. The first of Sister Cities’ annual conferences was held in 1967 in Los Angeles, California.   

Ms. Thelma Press, who was involved in the 1959 establishment of the Sister City relationship between San Bernardino, California and Tachikawa, Japan was asked in 1972 to serve as the California State representative and sought out other community leaders to serve as state representatives throughout the U.S. Due to the number of sister city relationships between Japan and the United States, requests were received to form a chapter of Sister Cities International for Japanese and American cities. However, rather than splinter Sister Cities International into U.S. chapters for each country, Ms. Press met in 1974 with the Mayor of Santa Fe Springs, Ms. Betty Wilson who sat with President Eisenhower as one of the people who signed the agreement to form Sister Cities, to look at forming a state chapter of Sister Cities International. Together, they established rules and regulations for chapter by-laws. However, due to the size of the State of California, it was decided to establish two chapters simultaneously, and that was the birth of the Sister Cities Northern and Southern California chapters. State chapters of Sister Cities International then spread throughout the U.S.

SoCal Sister Cities now connects approximately 170 cities in 50 countries with 40 cities in Southern California.  

Click here to read a message from the President of Sister Cities International Southern California Chapter.
Click here to see the Sister Cities International Southern California Chapter Board of Directors
Click here to download the brochure for Sister Cities International Southern California Chapter.
Click here to see a directory of Sister Cities in Southern California.

If you wish to announce a sister city event or post your newsletter, please send the information to admin@socalsistercities.org

Sister Cities International Southern California Chapter, Inc.
4115 E. Maple Tree Drive
Anaheim, CA 92807
I.R.S. Federal Tax I.D. #330607663

Interview with Sister Cities International SoCal Chapter Co-Founder Thelma Press

Sister Cities International

The Sister City program was launched as a national concept at the White House in 1956, when President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower called for massive exchanges between Americans and people of other nations. Originally proposed as the people-to-people program, and as part of the National League of Cities, SCI became independent as a nonprofit organization in 1967. Sister Cities International is the national membership organization for sister city state programs in the United States, and currently represents more than 2,100 communities in 121 countries around the world.

“The Sister Cities Program is an important resource to the negotiations of governments in letting the people themselves give expression of their common desire for friendship, goodwill and cooperation for a better world for all.”
~ President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Sister Cities International
915 15th Street NW, 4th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005

(202) 347-8650
(202) 393-6524 Fax

E-mail: info@sistercities.org

“The Sister Cities Program is an important resource to the negotiations of governments in letting the people themselves give expression of their common desire for friendship, goodwill and cooperation for a better world for all.”

– President Dwight D. Eisenhower

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“No impersonal representation of a culture can fully communicate its reality to others who have never known its living substance. Through personal relations – our curiosity can be fulfilled by a sense of knowledge, cynicism can give way to trust, and the warmth of human friendship to be kindled.”

“The Town Affiliation Program is making a real contribution throughout the United States and with many communities abroad. I hope that you will work to spread its effectiveness to other communities in your part of the country.”

– President John F. Kennedy

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“Sister Cities work outside government in a field vital to all: the promotion of friendship among citizens of every land so they will understand each other and want peace. I know of no other task more important for the people of every country.”

-President Lyndon B. Johnson

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“The dramatic past successes of the Sister Cities International program give you and your fellow members a dynamic role in the task of building a more peaceful and prosperous world community.”

– President Richard M. Nixon

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“When President Eisenhower proposed the establishment of a program of affiliation between American and foreign cities on September 11, 1956, no one could have anticipated how successful it would become in creating imaginative and valuable exchanges in the fields of education, culture, youth, business, local government and professional expertise. All who have given of their time and talent in this effort can take great satisfaction from their accomplishments.”

-President Gerald Ford

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“Exchange of ideas and just getting to know each other on the level that the Sister City program provides plays an important role in maintaining good relationships between the U.S. and foreign relations. The Sister City program is based on a mutual situation – all countries experience urban problems – and from this common base we can move toward broader understanding to bring our diverse cultures closer together.”

–  President Jimmy Carter

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“I am proud to serve as Honorary Chairman of Sister Cities International and to be associated with a program whose human aspect reaches far beyond purely formal contacts between cities.

“Because of your emphasis on the exchange of people and ideas, Sister Cities serves to promote better understanding and cooperation throughout the world. Out of this effort comes a spirit of friendship which, when multiplied by thousands of Sister Cities, results in improved economic, cultural, and social relationships between people everywhere.”

– President Ronald Reagan

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“I am honored and proud to lend my name to an organization that has encouraged better international understanding in the fields of education, culture, economic, and social relationships. Thank  you for extending me the privilege of being associated with the United States Sister Cities Program.”

– President George H.W. Bush

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“The Sister Cities International program has been instrumental in breaking down barriers between cultures and in fostering better relations between peoples separated by oceans.  I applaud your efforts to build lasting bridges between people of different nations in a rapidly changing world.  I am committed to working for a more peaceful planet and am impressed with your organization’s ongoing work toward this goal.  I am happy to offer my support as Honorary Chairman.”

– President William Jefferson Clinton

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“For 45 years, Sister Cities International has been credited with establishing and strengthening partnerships between communities in the United States and similar communities internationally.  Your organization fosters recognition that trust, cooperation, and peace between nations are built on understanding, and that real understanding comes from communication.  I commend you for promoting the development of relationships among leaders and citizens of different countries and cultures.

“I also applaud the thousands of volunteers affiliated with your organization for their efforts on behalf of those in need.  From humanitarian assistance to community development, you help give hope and comfort to countless individuals and communities throughout the world.  I encourage Sister Cities International in its efforts to unite communities, build understanding, and promote peace across national and cultural barriers.”

– President George W. Bush

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“The increasing interconnectivity of nations in today’s global economy underscores the need for robust partnerships between communities around the world. Organizations like Sister Cities International foster such relationships, increasing mutual knowledge and understanding between cities and cultures.  These collaborations promote collaboration and trust among citizens and nations, create opportunities for technological and economic innovation and development, and lay the foundations for continued peace and prosperity.  I am proud to serve as your Honorary Chair.”

 -President Barack Obama

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