The Sister City concept started in 1956 with President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
He envisioned a network that championed for peace and prosperity by fostering bonds between people from different communities around the world. He thought that if people from different cultures could understand, appreciate, and celebrate their differences while building partnerships, it would lessen the chance of new conflicts.
In 2000, Fountain Hills started a partnership with its first Sister City in Belgium, and this has grown into four Sister Cities. Delegations from Fountain Hills have been to all four to build relationships with local mayors and schools. These relationships focus on cultural and student exchanges, educational programs, community events, and humanitarian efforts.
Each partnership is officially created between the mayor of Fountain Hills and the mayor of the other cities. The Sister Cities Advisory Commission serves as a liaison of support between the Town and Fountain Hills Sister Cities Corporation. The Commission also works to promote ways for communities to creatively learn, work, and solve problems through reciprocal cultural, educational, municipal, business, professional, and technical exchanges and projects.
ATACO, EL SALVADOR
Founded in the 16th century by the Spanish, Ataco is located in the mountains of El Salvador. It is surrounded by coffee fields that supply beans to Starbucks and other firms. It has a population of about 13,000 with another 6,000 in outlying villages. It is known for its arts and many festivals and fairs.
Nestled in the Westerwald region, Dierdorf has a rich history with ruins from ancient civilizations. It is known for its pottery works and ceramics museum. It is surrounded by lush woodlands, small lakes, and provides abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation. About 4,000 people live in Dierdorf, with another 12,000 settled in the five towns that surround it, each with their own unique cultures and customs.
The Renaissance town of Zamosc was founded in the 16th century and was built according to Italian theories of the “ideal town”. As a result, it is an amazing example of innovation in town planning that combines the functions of an urban settlement, a residential area, and a fortress. The population is about 65,000. Zamosc is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located near Brussels and Antwerp, Kasterlee has over 17,000 residents. The town is the result of a 1977 merger of three villages. Most of the people are fluent in Dutch, English, French, and German. The city is primarily residential with tourism as its primary industry. Kasterlee was Fountain Hills’ first Sister City in 2000.
Visit FountainHillsSisterCities.org to learn more about the organization.