SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Earlier in May, the mayor of Sioux City’s sister city Gjilan, Kosovo visited town. You may be wondering, what exactly does it mean to be a sister city?

According to Sister Cities International, a sister city is a long-term partnership between two communities. These partnerships become official when the highest elected official in the city, such as a mayor, signs off on the agreement.

Sister city organizations are often made up of volunteers and organizations such as nonprofits and governments to work on projects and form connections that benefit both communities. The projects that sister cities work on can vary but often includes sharing culture, education, trading, and business.

A city can have any number of sister cities and each project can look different. As of May 2023, Sioux City has three sister cities according to the city’s website. These cities include Gjilan, Kosovo; Yamanashi, Japan; and Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Lake Charles, Louisiana, is Sioux City’s longest sister city partnership being established in 1995.

Yamanashi, Japan joined as a sister city in 2003.

Lastly, Gjilan, Kosovo, joined in 2020.

Photos courtesy City of Sioux City.

Semehar Ghebrekidan with the city told KCAU 9 that getting involved with the Sister City programs is a great way to experience world culture without having to travel. She said that she believes that working with organizations is a great way to learn, get to know others inside and outside of your community, and a way to show that you care about your community.

You don’t have to be a member of the organization to get involved. If you’re interested in participating in the Sister City program, you can reach out to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at