Sister Cities International’s mission is to "promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, & cooperation — one individual, one community at a time." That’s a laudable objective although I have to wonder how these relationships are established. Is there some sort of affinity perspective involved or is it more like someone says, "hey, wanna be our sister city?"
My hometown — Arlington, Virginia — has a number of sister cities:
To date the Arlington Sister City Association has a relationship with five cities from around the world. The first sister city relationship was established more than fifteen years ago with Aachen, Germany. The second sister city was established shortly after with Coyoacan, Mexico. In 2003, Arlington became sister cities with Reims, France after several years of student exchanges and cultural programs. We have a very active relationship with San Miguel, El Salvador, and our newest sister city agreement was signed on May 23, 2011 with Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine.
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Setting aside that Arlington isn’t technically a city (it’s a county) I still wonder how they came up with their list. San Miguel, El Salvador seems like a great choice because of the large Salvadorian community that has immigrated into the area. On the other hand, I’m sure that Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine is a wonderful place so I hope nobody takes this personally, but how did they come up with that pairing?
I’d like to suggest something a little less random, at least to the geo-geek community: maybe subsequent rounds of Sister Cities selections could be based on locations with the same latitude or longitude? A quick mapping exercise introduces all sorts of possibilities.
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A wealth of latitude options present themselves simply due to the placement of continents. Heading due east, the line runs through several European and Asian nations.
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- Portugal: It goes right through the Azores (been there!) but it never makes landfall. It then hits Lisbon, which is a much better choice anyway.
- Spain: How about the party island of Ibiza?
- Italy: Both the southern tip of Sardinia and the mainland itself
- Turkey: It practically slices Turkey in half, the largest town bisected probably being Kayseri.
- Armenia: the tiniest little slice imaginable at its southern border
- Some Stans: Turk; Uzbek and Tajik.
- China: Tianjin for certain, but oh-so-close to Beijing too.
- North Korea: Indeed, Pyongyang would be a possibility based purely on geography but that might not be an optimal choice for plenty of other reasons.
- Japan: Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture. This could be a solid selection. The city was damaged heavily by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and a fire, and could probably use a helping hand.
There are fewer longitude options, but some interesting ones here as well.
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- Canada: The line doesn’t cross any major cities, falling about halfway between Toronto and Ottawa. The largest town seems to be Pembroke, Ontario, home of the "Annual Pembroke Old Time Fiddle & Step Dancing Championships."
- The Bahamas: Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco is encountered.
- Cuba: Even though Arlington is sometimes called a Socialist Republic, Cuba probably remains off the list for the foreseeable future.
- Jamaica: Now, that’s more like it; Ocho Rios would be the specific town.
- Peru: It runs right through Lima, which is rather impressive.
This is a game you can play at home too. Are there any remarkable lat/long Sister Cities for your hometown?