ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — On Monday, Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea said that he plans to not end the sister city partnership with a Russian City.

Roanoke has a partnership with Pskov, Russia.

What is a Sister City?

According to the Sister Cities International website, a sister city is a partnership between two communities in two countries. This can be a sister city, county, or state relationship. This relationship won’t be recognized until both communities sign off on the agreement. This can be the highest elected or appointed official. A city can have several sister cities.

The Roanoke Valley Sister Cities website states that President Eisenhower created the Sister Cities International network in 1956. Eisenhower thought this bond between nations would help form peace and prosperity between different communities around the world.

How does Sister Cities work?

Each sister city is comprised of seven committees in which they choose a project to work on. They also work with governments, schools universities, churches, civic/service clubs, and community festivals.

What are the sister cities of Roanoke?

Roanoke has seven sister cities: Florianópolis, Brazil, Kisumu, Kenya, Lijang, China, Opole, Poland, Pskov, Russia, Saint-Lô, France, and Wonju, Korea.

Wonju, Korea

  • Sister City since: 1964
  • Roanoke and Wonju participate in cultural, educational, medical, and artistic exchanges
  • Gateway city to Korea’s coal, tungsten, and cement resources
  • Industry includes auto parts, transformers, battery manufacture, cutlery, copper wire, electronics, sporting goods, office equipment, plastics, cermics, bio-med research & products, insulation and floor tiles, cosmetics, processed/canned foods, and musical instruments

Kisumu, Kenya

  • Sister City since: 1976
  • Roanoke and Kisumu support tech programs, scholarships, orphanage, and HIV/AIDS care
  • Roanoke has relationships with Agape Children’s Ministry, Salem Orphanage, New Life Babies Trust, and Kisumu Hospice
  • Initiatives to provide water wells in rural areas for better quality of life for those living in Kisumu and surrounded areas

Pskov, Russia

  • Sister City since: 1992
  • Furnished medical supplies and equipment for hospitals, orphanages and hospice
  • 1993 parternship between Ferrum College and the Pskov Pedagogical Institute ( now Pskov State University)
  • Russians students received scholarships to study at Ferrum College for a semester and Ferrum students have worked, studied and interned in Pskov

Florianópolis, Brazil

  • Sister City since: 1995
  • Reciprocal visits between cities
  • Roanoke and Florianópolis had exchanges in arts, concert performances, economic development, social services, and univeristy linkages
  • Raised funds to support Love’s Little Nest, an orphanage/school for children living with HIV/AIDS and children whose parents have died of the disease

Opole, Poland

  • Sister City since: 1995
  • Opole is the center for industry, trade banking, culture and education
  • Operates central heating plant, water treatment, and sewage facilities

Lijiang, China

  • Sister City since: 1996
  • U.S. connection: Virginians learn the process of curing ham and Yunnan Province had it’s first tabbaco plants that were transplanted from Virginia

Saint-Lô, France

  • Sister City since: 1998
  • Virginians in the Infantry Regiment helped liberate St.-Lô on July 19, 1944
  • In 1999 the city dedicated a bridge called the Pont de Roanoke

How do Sister relationships develop?

There are several ways these relationships develop either through preexisting mayoral relationships, trade relationships, historical connections, ancestral/demographic connections, expatriate communities, shared geographic/sector challenges, faith-based groups, and personal experiences ranging from study/work abroad to marriages

What are Virginia’s other sister cities by state?

Virginia CitySister Cities
AlexandriaGyumri, Armenia
Caen, France
Helsingborg, Sweden
Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom
ArlingtonSan Miguel, El Salvadoror
Reims, France
Aachen, Germany
Coyoacan, Mexico
Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine
CharlottesvillePleven, Bulgaria
Besancon, France
Winneba, Ghano (Friendship City)
Poggio a Caiano, Italy
ChesapeakeJoinville, Brazil
GordonsvilleThoré-la-Rochette, France
HamptonVendome, France
Pietermaritzburg Msunduzi, South Africa
Anyang, South Korea
Southampton, England, United Kingdom
LynchburgRueil Malmaison, France
Glauchau, Germany
Newport NewsTaizhou, China
Greifswald, Germany
Neyagawa, Japan
NorfolkHalifax, Canada
Ningbo, China
Toulon, France
Wilhelmshaven, Germany
Tema, Ghana
Kochi, India
Kitakyushu, Japan
Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
Kalinigrad, Russia
Norfolk County, England, United Kingdom
RichmondZhengzhou, China
Saitama (Urawa), Japan
Segou, Mali
Windhoek, Namibia
Richmond upon Thames, England, United Kingdom
SuffolkOderzo, Italy
Suffolk, United Kingdom
Virginia BeachWaiblingen, Germany
Miyazaki, Japan
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua (Friendship City)
Moss, Norway
Olongapo, Philippines
Ards and North Down Borough, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Information from the 2018 Annual Impact Report from Sister Cities website (

What is a Friendship City?

A Friendship City is considered less formal than a sister city. In some cases, it is used as a first stage in the relationship, in which afterward an agreement for a long-term relationship may be formed.