Dallas, where I live, has a "twin" city although most of the fine citizens of Ft. Worth might disagree. They may say that there is precious little between the two that could be described as even fraternal much less identical. In some cases twin cities are connected even within the airport code that serves the area, like DFW, MSP or BWI (Baltimore/Washington). I even know what Quad Cities are thanks to Moline, Davenport, Rock Island and Bettendorf clustered on either side of the Mississippi River dividing Iowa from Illinois.
What I haven't quite gotten my mind around is the concept of the "Sister City." Online I found a definition that says, in general, that it is a cooperative arrangement between two areas intended to foster cultural and commercial ties. In some cases there's also an aesthetic similarity between the two regions. Most developed nations have commercial interests in the San Francisco Bay Area, certainly far more than Wellington, New Zealand but the latter is nothing if not the spitting image of its larger American twin, this of course in addition to being the capital of a country.
So the question is, and there are really two, how are sister cities determined and do the people that live there, the ones that are the target of all this effort, actually know anything about the other town or towns on the list? Texas' European history is centered heavily around German and Czech immigrants, so is that part of the reason behind Brno in the Czech Republic being selected as a sister city to Dallas?
Sister Cities International is a website based in Washington, DC and used to promote economic and civic ties between cities all across the country. It's almost like an online dating service for urban centers, even including a page titled "Cities Seeking Cities." Hmmm..."Single Urban Town seeks Industrial Commercial City. Must like hard workers, have diverse cultural attractions and be willing to develop deep economic relationships."
And I'm going to stop there before it looks as if I've written way too many of those things! That London, England is a sister city to New York City is a no-brainer. One can also divine politics as well as economics in other sister cities to London such as Berlin, Moscow and Johannesburg or between Beijing and Washington, DC. If I were a citizen or a leader of Denver, though, would I have picked Brest, France, or Potenza, Italy and not Zurich, Switzerland instead? Brest is on the very western tip of France, a seaport looking out on the Atlantic Ocean and home to barely 150,000 people.
Zurich, on the other hand? About the same size, surrounded by gorgeous mountains, major economic engine of the region, on and on and oh, people in both cities have at least heard of the other. Ask someone in Denver about Brest and you might get an anatomy lesson.
Being a resident of Dallas/Ft. Worth, I wondered what some of the sister cities are. Try Mbabane, Swaziland, Saratov, Russia and Cairo, Egypt. Cairo?!