Many cities around the world are involved in “sister city” agreements, which promote tourism, business, and neighborly international relations. In addition to making connections with well-known urban areas, sister-city agreements can also help bring lesser-known international cities into the public eye. Indianapolis, the capital of Indiana, currently has 10 sister cities on five continents. The photos and information below will give you a window into these cities and their cultures. If you don’t get a chance to explore them in person, you can look for events in Indianapolis that feature its sister cities and their cultures.
- Indianapolis has 10 sister cities on every continent except Antarctica and Australia.
- Sister city agreements help cities partner for mutual benefit in areas like commerce, education, and building international understanding.
- Indianapolis’ first sister city was added in 1978 and the most recent one was added in 2023.
- The city of Indianapolis has provided a website with information about the program and ways to contact the committee to find out more about public events and volunteer opportunities.
1. Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei became one of Indianapolis’ sister cities in 1978. It is the capital of the Republic of China, popularly known as Taiwan. The country is at the center of the news as an international flashpoint because the People’s Republic of China claims the island as part of its own territory. Nearly 2.5 million people live in Taipei, meaning more than one out of 10 Taiwanese live there. This is a bit larger than the greater Indianapolis metropolitan area, which has just two million residents. It is considered one of the major economic and technological metropolises of Asia and is a bustling port of trade and travel. Mandarin Chinese is the predominant language of Taipei.
2. Cologne, Germany
In German, Cologne is known as Köln. It has been one of Indianapolis’ sister cities since 1988. With 1.1 million inhabitants in the city itself and another 3.1 in its metropolitan area, Cologne is the fourth-largest city in Germany. Internationally, the city is most well-known for Cologne Cathedral, a medieval Catholic church that is among the tallest in the world. In case you’re wondering whether the name of the city has anything to do with perfumes, it does. The city is the origin of Eau de Cologne, which has put the word “cologne” into English as a generic term for a milder form of perfume.
3. Monza, Italy
Monza is a small city located in Italy’s northern Lombardy region. It joined the ranks of Indianapolis’ sister cities in 1994. Historically it has played an outsized role in Italian history since Roman times. Although its population of 124,000 may seem modest, this is actually a nearly four-fold increase since World War II. The city is full of historical churches, museums, fountains, and sculptures. It also draws tourists and international attention as the host of the Formula One Italian Grand Prix.
4. Piran, Slovenia
Piran, a sister city since 2001, is the southernmost and westernmost of three towns on Slovenia’s narrow coast on the Adriatic Sea. Historically contested between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italy, it became a part of Slovenia when that country achieved independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. It is a compactly built medieval town, popular with tourists for its historic architecture and picturesque seashore views. The climate also makes it a great vacation spot. With a humid subtropical climate, annual temperatures stay within a relatively comfortable range of 32-85 °F. Piran is not a bad place for Indianapolis residents to vacation when their winter temperatures drop as low as -15 °F!
5. Hangzhou, China
Hangzhou, a sister city since 2008, may be unfamiliar to people unacquainted with Asia or international business, but in fact, it is one of China’s most important cities historically and economically. It has a population of nearly 12 million people and a gross metropolitan product of $486.5 billion. That’s more than the annual GDP of Nigeria, the most prosperous country in Africa! It’s among the top 100 financial centers in the world and ranks 10th in the world among cities hosting the largest number of Fortune 500 companies. The economy of Indianapolis is about a third that size, bringing in about $162 billion annually, which is certainly nothing to scoff at!
6. Campinas, Brazil
Campinas is a city in Sao Paulo State in the southeast of Brazil. About 1.2 million people live there, making it the 14th largest city in the country. It is the 10th richest city in Brazil. With 17,667 industries, it produces 10% of the country’s manufacturing output. One of the biggest problems of the city is that most of the original vegetation has been removed and the area is subject to flooding. Work is ongoing to improve the environmental situation. Campinas has been a sister city of Indianapolis since 2009.
7. Northamptonshire County, UK
Northamptonshire County is unique among Indianapolis’ sister cities (since 2009). It is not just one city but a ceremonial county of 747,622. There are eight towns and cities of over 10,000 people in the county, the largest of which is Northampton, with 212,100 people. The region was historically a major center of shoe manufacturing, but this industry declined greatly in the 1980s. The area is well-connected with modern transportation links to the rest of the country.
8. Hyderabad, India
There are actually two cities named Hyderabad on the Indian subcontinent, one in Pakistan and one in India. Since 2010, Indian Hyderabad has been a sister city of Indianapolis. It is located in south-central India. With 6.9 million residents and a metropolitan area of 9.7 million, Hyderabad is the fourth-largest city in the country. Its output of $74 billion a year makes it the fifth-largest income-generating city in India.
9. Onitsha, Nigeria
Onitsha is a river port city in Nigeria. It has been one of Indianapolis’ sister cities since 2017. The city has been growing rapidly in population in recent years. Its current population is 3,553,000. This is a massive increase from the 76,000 people who lived there in the 1960s. Onitsha is well-known for the Onitsha Main Market, the largest open-air market in Africa. The heavy development of the region has created tremendous challenges in soil, air, noise, and water pollution.
10. Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico
Indianapolis’ newest sister city, added just in 2023, is Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico. It has a thriving economy that is attracting migration from other parts of Mexico. It is a center of information technology, aircraft manufacturing, chemical production, and agriculture. The region is the second largest wine producer in the country after Baja California. A mountainous area near the city has been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and the city center is a World Heritage Site.
Want to Get Involved?
If you live in the Indianapolis area and would like to get involved in activities related to Indianapolis’ sister cities, visit the Office of International and Latino Affairs online. The city is in the process of building its website to provide information and how to get in touch with the sister city committee for each city.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sean Pavone/ via Getty Images
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