Sister Cities International is the national headquarters for the sister city program in the United States. The program began in 1956 when President Eisenhower proposed a people-to-people diplomacy initiative, and it became a non-profit corporation in 1967 due to its popularity. A sister city is an officially recognized, broad-based, long-term partnership between two communities that begins with an official ceremony involving the top-elected officials of the two jurisdictions. Sister cities can come about in a number of ways: whether it is a top-down approach where two mayors meet and become friends; or in a bottom-up scenario where an individual or group in the community takes the initiative to reach out to another community.
Being that Apollo Mapping finds it home in Boulder, Colorado; we thought it would be appropriate to start here with our look at sister cities throughout the world. Boulder is a very progressive city that is known as being on the ‘cutting edge’ culturally, socially, academically and even in the business world. Boulder is also on the cutting edge of the sister city program as we are proud to say that we have seven sister cities! They are: Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Jalapa, Nicaragua; Kisumu, Kenya; Lhasa, Tibet; Mante, Mexico; Yamagata, Japan; and Yateras, Cuba.
On May 8, 1997, Boulder engaged in a Sister City program relationship with Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Dushanbe is in the western portion of Tajikistan, a country that is bordered by Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, China and Pakistan. It is the capital of the country which is the smallest in Central Asia by area. The city of Dushanbe has close to 700,000 residents, 85% of which are Tajiks. Dushanbe’s economy focuses a great deal on mining, as coal, lead and arsenic are its top exports. For energy production, 95% of Tajikistan’s electricity is generated by the Nurek Dam; the world’s highest as of 2008. The city is situated at the union of two rivers, the Varzob and the Kofarnihon. It developed from a small village based on its identity as a marketplace that was held on Mondays, as Dushanbe literally means “Monday” in Persian.
In 1987, Dushanbe presented its unique Dushanbe Tea House to the city of Boulder. It was completed in Tajikistan in 1990, and then shipped to Boulder where it was reassembled and opened to the public in 1998. It was constructed by 40 Tajik artisans over a two year period, and then disassembled and shipped to Boulder in 200 crates! The Tea House abuts the Boulder Creek, keeping with the Tajik tradition of placing tea houses along waterways. The Boulder Valley Rose Society planted a rose garden on the premises as well, which is another traditional aspect of Tajik culture. The Dushanbe Tea House is a landmark in the city, and is something that tourists have on their long list of “must-sees” when visiting the People’s Republic of Boulder.