Tacoma is the third largest city in Washington state, after Seattle and Spokane. Tacoma is an urban port city with a population of 219,326, according to the 2020 census. Tacoma has a dynamic economy that includes maritime industry, health care, manufacturing, and military contracts. Despite its reputation as kind of a “blue collar” cousin to Seattle, Tacoma is also known for having a vibrant downtown core, with museums, bars, restaurants, and museums. As such, it should come as no surprise that Tacoma also participates in the Sister Cities International program and the city has built relationships with cities around the world.
Tacoma Sister Cities and Friendship Cities
Today, there are 13 active Tacoma Sister Cities, 1 Emeritus Sister City (no longer active), and 2 Friendship Cities. The first sister city relationship with Kitakyushu, Japan was established in 1959. Tacoma’s newest sister city is Brovary, Ukraine, a relationship that started in 2017. For more information about Tacoma Sister Cities, see the City of Tacoma Sister Cities portal of the City of Tacoma website and Tacoma Sister Cities homepage and the Tacoma Sister Cities Facebook page.
Below is a list of Tacoma’s 13 active sister cities. I have noted when the sister city relationship was formed and provided external weblinks (when available).
- Ålesund, Norway. Established 1986. See City of Tacoma; Tacoma Sister Cities
- Biot, France. Established 2012. Links: Biot at City of Tacoma; Biot at Tacoma Sister Cities; Tacoma Biot Sister City Project Facebook page
- Boca del Rio, Mexico. Established 2016.Links: Boca del Rio at City of Tacoma; Boca del Rio at Tacoma Sister Cities; Boca del Rio-Tacoma Facebook page
- Brovary, Ukraine. Established 2017. Links: Brovary at City of Tacoma; Brovary at Tacoma Sister Cities
- Cienfuegos, Cuba. Established 2000. Links: Cienfuegos at City of Tacoma
- Davao City, Philippines. Established 1994. Links: Davou City at City of Tacoma
- El Jadida, Morocco. Established 2007. Links: El Jadida at City of Tacoma; El Jadida at Tacoma Sister Cities
- Fuzhou, China. Established Established 1994. Links: Fuzhou at City of Tacoma; Fuzhou at Tacoma Sister Cities
- George, South Africa. Established 1997. Links: George at City of Tacoma; George at Tacoma Sister Cities
- Gunsan, Republic of Korea. Established 1978. Links: Gunsan at City of Tacoma; Gunsan at Tacoma Sister Cities
- Kitakyushu, Japan. Established 1959. Links: Kitakyushu at City of Tacoma; Kitakyushu at Tacoma Sister Cities
- Taichung, Taiwan. Established 2000. Links: Taichung at City of Tacoma; Taichung at Tacoma Sister Cities
- Vladivostok, Russia. Established 1992. Links: Vladivostok at City of Tacoma; Vladivostok at Tacoma Sister Cities
Tacoma does in fact have an Emeritus Sister City relationship that is no longer active. A sister city relationship is retired into “emeritus” status when one or both of the cities has decided to end the active relationship. If you are interested in learning more about that process, please see the Sister Cities International Dormant Program Toolkit.
- Kiryat Motzkin, Israel. Sister city relationship was active from 1979 to 2018. Links: Kiryat Motzkin at City of Tacoma; Kiryat Motzkin at Tacoma Sister Cities
Tacoma also has two Friendship Cities. Friendship cities are formed on a more casual basis, when cities are first learning about each other but do not yet have the political will or inclination to formalize a sister city relationship. Some friendship cities may later become sister cities. Or they may also simply continue as friendship cities.
- Azemmour, Morocco. Established 2018.
- Stari Grad, Croatia. Established 2018. Links: Tacoma Sister Cities – Stari Grad, Croatia Facebook page
The History Behind Sister Cities International
In 1956 President Dwight Eisenhower started Sister Cities International as part of a White House conference on citizen diplomacy. The broad idea behind developing sister city relationships is to create a person-to-person exchange between Americans and citizens of other countries based on cultural, educational, information and trade exchanges. Americans can and should learn about and celebrate differences that we have with communities around the world, thus creating new friendships and hopefully playing a small role in making future world conflict less likely.
For more articles about Sister Cities International and other sister city relationships, please see:
- Seattle Sister Cities – an overview
- Gdynia, Poland: Seattle sister city
- Sihanoukville, Cambodia: Seattle sister city
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