Newcastle’s International Relationships

Newcastle’s International Relationships

Newcastle upon Tyne is a truly international city with a proud tradition of working with people, organisations and countries from around the world through formal and informal relationships. Some of our international relationships date back to the peace and friendship movements that emerged after World War II while other, more recent relationships, are often built around business, cultural or educational links.  

You can find out more about Newcastle’s International Relationships and the work we are doing below.


Newcastle NSW: Newcastle is a city and port in New South Wales that lies 104 miles North East of Sydney.  Like Newcastle upon Tyne the city was built on heavy industries such as coal mining, shipbuilding and engineering and our relationship began when people from our city emigrated to Newcastle NSW.  

Links were formalised when we became Sister Cities during an ‘Australia Week’ in 1987.  The distance between the two cities means the emphasis of the links is social with residents of both Newcastle’s visiting friends and relatives in each other cities.  Newcastle NSW, along with our Newcastle, is also a member of Newcastles of the World.


Hainan: Hainan is the smallest and most southern province of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and is made up of around 200 islands the largest of which is Hainan island. The province was also established as the largest Special Economic Zone in the late 1980s.

Newcastle University signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hainan Province in 2008 to encourage collaboration in research, development and teaching across a range of disciplines.  The agreement was the first partnership of its kind between a UK university and Hainan Province.  The partnership now includes a Confucius Institute making Newcastle University a leading centre for Chinese language and culture and co-operation between China and the UK.

Henan: Henan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country and has the third largest population in China.  It is recognised as the birth place of Chinese civilization with numerous heritages and four of the Eight Great Ancient Capitals of China are located in Henan.  The economy depends on dwindling aluminium and coal reserves, agriculture, heavy industry, tourism, and retail. The relationship between Newcastle and Henan was initiated by Newcastle University in 2008 linked to emerging green industries in Newcastle.   



Nancy:  Nancy lies at the crossroads of several European routes in North East France and is an attractive location for businesses and students.  Newcastle and Nancy have many similarities including population, centuries of border conflict, a history of mining and heavy industry, established cultural sectors and well-known sports teams. 

Our relationship with Nancy began in 1953 when the French Consul presented Newcastle City Council with a letter suggesting a “friendly association” between the two cities.  The relationship was formalised a year later when we signed a Twin City agreement during a visit by the Mayor of Nancy to Newcastle.  

In 2014 we celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of our Twin Cities relationship with funding support from the European Union.  The project involved citizens from both cities, the re-signing of our Twin City agreement and a new Citizen’s Agreement.  Links between the two cities have continued to grow with activities including a Veterans Exchange, a Book Exchange between the City Library, Lit and Phil and American Library in Nancy, the signing of an agreement between the North East Chamber of Commerce and Nancy Chamber of Commerce and an annual student month long student exchange programme with Newcastle University. 


Gelsenkirchen: Gelsenkirchen is in the northern part of the Ruhr area, just north of Essen.  The city was a centre of heavy industry and one of the most important mining towns in Europe.  The city was important to Germany’s wartime economy and was a target for allied bombers which resulted in around three quarters of homes and public buildings in the city being destroyed by the end of the war in 1945. 

Our relationship with Gelsenkirchen began in 1947 as part of the post-war peace and friendship movement and is our oldest formal relationship.  Activities between the two cities include school exchange programmes, joint cultural and community projects, Chamber of Commerce links and shared interest in developing service industries and new technology.  

Hanover: Our relationship with Hanover is relatively recent and based on an annual visit by students from the city to Newcastle.  We are currently considering proposals to develop an internship programme with the city.


Groningen: Based on the banks of two rivers in the north of the Netherlands Groningen was for centuries a strategic trading location.  Today it’s retail and commercial centre means it is still one of the most important cities with main industries including sugar refining, book printing, tobacco processing, and the manufacture of clothing, furniture, hosiery, machinery, and bicycles.  Groningen has been called the ‘world cycling city’ with an extensive cycle network and claims that 57% of journeys are made by bicycle. 

Although the relationship between Groningen and Newcastle is not a formal twinning arrangement it is one of the longest with cultural exchanges and cooperation taking part since the early 1900’s.  The partnership in 1946 based on sporting exchanges and reconfirmed in 1988 with a bias towards cultural, social and economic links as well as collaborations on activities such as the European Cities Initiative on drug misuse. 


Haifa: Haifa is situated in the north west of Israel and is its principal port and has a population of over 265,000 and a metropolitan area population of around 600,000.  The population is a mix of Jews and Arabs with a reputation for good relations between the two communities.  Industries in the area include steel foundries, food processing, shipbuilding (small naval craft, fishing boats) and the production of chemicals, textiles and cement. Newcastle and Haifa have been Twin Cities since 1979.  There was activity in the 1980’s and 90’s but there is currently little contact between the two cities. 


Bergen: Bergen is Norway's second largest city and is situated on the south west coast with an economy based mainly on fishing, shipbuilding and associated industries, machinery and metal products, food processing and offshore energy. The Naval Academy of the Royal Norwegian Navy is located at Laksevåg in Bergen.

Newcastle has a particularly close bond with Bergen.  Every December since the Second World War the we have been presented with a Christmas Tree by the city as a symbol of peace and goodwill.  In 1968 The King of Norway, Olav V, opened Newcastle's Civic Centre and we signed a Twin City agreement.  The twinning arrangement is very important as Britain is the main recipient of foreign investment by Norwegian industrial, shipping, commercial and financial companies.  

South Africa

Durban:  eThekwini (Durban) is the busiest container port in Africa and thegateway to the national parks and historic sites of Zulu Kingdom and the Drakensberg. In December 2014 we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with eThekwini Municipality to “promote relations between the cities by agreeing to share information and best practice and to support cooperation on matters of mutual interest”.  Since then there have been a number trade and business visits between the two cities.

Eastern Cape: In 1986 Nelson Mandela was made an Honorary Freeman of Newcastle and in 2008 North East of England twinned with the Eastern Cape.  This agreement was made by the Association of North East Councils.


Malmo: Malmö is the third most populous city in Sweden and the capital of Skåne County.  The economy of was traditionally based on shipbuilding and construction related industries and although the city experienced an economic decline in the 1970’s there has been a revival in recent years. The strongest sectors in Malmö are logistics, retail and wholesale trade, construction and property.  The city is also home to well-known companies in the fields of technology, IT and digital media. 

Our relationship developed from a Cooperation Agreement signed in 2003 and reconfirmed in 2010.  Joint areas of work, usually funded by the European Union, include sustainability, climate change, migration, regeneration, childhood education and care and education and skills.  

United States of America

Atlanta:  Atlanta is the State capital of Georgia and the largest city and principal trade and transportation centre in South East of the USA.  Metropolitan Atlanta is the ninth largest metropolitan area in the USA with a population of 5.5 million and is home the world headquarters of Coca-Cola, AT&T Mobility, CNN and Delta Airlines it ranks fourth for the number of Fortune 500 companies based in the area.  Atlanta has experienced rapid economic growth with employment increasing by almost 30% in the last decade with strong banking, engineering and health science sectors.  It also has one of the largest concentrations of colleges and universities in the USA with over 30 higher education institutions including the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and Georgia State University. Georgia Tech’s Industrial System’s and Engineering Department has ranked number one in the world for the past 15 years.

Our relationship with Sister City Atlanta was developed by an organisation known as the Friendship Force.  The first exchange visit took place in 1977 when President Jimmy Carter visited Newcastle as part of his first overseas visit as President.  Since then regular exchanges between Georgia and Newcastle have been organised by with President Carter returning in 1987.  As well as civic and cultural relationships there are links between Universities, businesses and other organisations in the two cities. 

Little Rock: Little Rock is Arkansas’ capital and largest city and the county seat of Pulaski County.  It is a river port and an important transportation centre due to the level of raw materials in the area including timber, oil, gas and coal.  The relationship between Newcastle and Little Rock was established in 1997 with an initial focus on young people. In 1999 Little Rock hosted the Sister Cities International Convention during which we signed a Friendship Agreement as at the time we were unable to become formal Sister Cities due to our relationship with Atlanta.  

In 2002 Little Rock sent its first official delegation to Newcastle led by Sharon Priest, Arkansas’ first female Secretary of State to Newcastle to meet with national and local leaders and to explore areas of common interest including health care, tourism, economic development, urban renewal, public transportation and city services for youth and seniors.

In 2014 young people from the Little Rock Mayor’s Youth Leadership programme spent a week in our city working with members of Newcastle’s Youth Council and other young people from Newcastle to develop joint projects for future collaboration.  In the same year the Sister Cities International Board changed their rules and Newcastle and Little Rock are now formally Sister Cities. 

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