In the 1950s, in an effort to create an atmosphere of friendship and cooperation, many cities, counties and states in the USA began affiliations with those in other nations. In 1956, when President Eisenhower proposed the people-to-people program, the affiliations developed into a national initiative. The Sister Cities program began as part of the National League of Cities, but due to its rapid growth and popularity, in 1967 Sister Cities International became a separate, non-profit corporation. Today, the SCI network represents more than 2,500 communities with some 137 countries around the world.Bellevue first joined in this effort in 1969 when the city of Yao, Japan, became its Sister City. Yao is a business and industrial center of some 280,000 people in eastern Osaka.In 1984 Hualien, Taiwan, the Republic of China became Bellevue’s second Sister City. Hualien is the largest city on Taiwan’s east coast and is known for its production of marble. Even its airport is done in marble!
Affiliations followed with Liepaja in Latvia (1992) and Kaldno in the Czech Republic (1993). Liepaja, an ice-free port on the Baltic Sea, is the third largest city in Latvia. Kladno, known in the past for its coal and iron mines, is just 20 miles from the Czech capital, Prague.
Over the years citizens of Bellevue have become involved in cultural, governmental, economic and student exchanges with the citizens of these cities. Through building on these people-to-people friendships we further the effort to advance global understanding and cooperation.