Santa Cruz Sister Cities 

The U.S. Sister City program began in 1956 from a proposal by President Eisenhower. A sister city is a long-term based relationship between two cities from different countries which is officially approved by the local city councils. This relationship becomes official with a signing ceremony by the top-elected officials of the two local cities. A sister city partnership promotes cultural and commercial ties. Santa Cruz has five sister cities: Alushta, Ukraine; Jinotepe, Nicaragua; Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela; Sestri Levante, Italy; and Shingu, Japan.


Alushta is a resort town in Crimea, Ukraine, founded in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian. It is situated on the Black Sea on the road from Gurzuf to Sudak, as well as on the Crimean Trolleybus line. The town was called Aluston (Αλουστον) in the Byzantine Empire, and Lusta during the Genoese rule. Adam Mickiewicz, the famous Polish poet and essayist, dedicated two of his Crimean Sonnets to Alushta.
Since being established as a sister city in 1987, there have been numerous exchanges between government officials and business people. On May 8 through May 18 in 2008, the Santa Cruz City Band played two concerts in Alushta. One concert was in conjunction with the Alushta Music School band and was performed before a packed auditorium. Concert conductor John Thomas announced the donation of several instruments to the Alushta Music School. The Santa Cruz City Band was treated to numerous outings, met with local government officials and the Rotary Club of Alushta.

On November 29 through December 12 in 2008, 21 students from the Alushta Music School and six adults visited Santa Cruz. The Alushta Music School Band and the Santa Cruz City Band performed together in a concert on December 8, 2008. The students were hosted by local families during their stay in Santa Cruz.


Jinotepe is a city in Nicaragua, located in Department of Carazo in the South Pacific region of Nicaragua at the municipality of Jinotepe. It borders with Managua, Masaya, Granada, and Rivas.

Andrew Craig, a local from Santa Cruz County, is working to set up a pilot recycling program and is beginning to educate the young about recycling. He is providing much needed humanitarian aid for Jinotepe through the Sister Cities Program. Craig was in Nicaragua from September to October 2010 and January to February 2011. He plans to return to Nicaragua August of 2011.

Puerto la Cruz

Puerto la Cruz was established as our first sister city in 1966 having soccer exchanges as an early goal. Puerto la Cruz is a port city located in Anzoátegui State, in Venezuela. It is the seat of the Juan Antonio Sotillo Municipality. The city has road connections to the state capital, Barcelona, to Lecheria and to Guanta, and has the potential to become the largest and most important metropolitan area in eastern Venezuela.

Due to an increase in Eastern sports fans, the city has been developing an efficient sports infrastructure by restoring its local sports complex. Puerto la Cruz is home to: the baseball team Caribes de Anzoategui, the basketball team Marinos de Anzoategui, the football team Deportivo Anzoategui.

Sestri Levante

Sestri Levante is a town in Liguria, Italy. Lying on the Mediterranean Sea, it is approximately 56 kilometers south of Genoa. While Portofino and the Cinque Terre are probably the most well-known tourist destinations on the Italian Riviera, Sestri Levante is becoming quite a favorite among Italians. This once quiet fishing village is slowly turning into a tourist hotspot, developing an old and a new town.

Located halfway between Genoa and La Spezia, Sestri Levante has two bays: Baia del Favole, which means Bay of Fables, and Baia del Silenzio, which means Bay of Silence. Baia del Favole was named in honor of Hans Christian Andersen, a Danish writer, who lived in Sestri Levante for a short time in 1835. Every year, the Sister Cities Committee enters local writers from Santa Cruz into the annual Hans Christian Andersen Fables contest held in Sestri Levante.


Shingū is a city located in Wakayama, Japan. As of May 1, 2011, the city has an estimated population of 32,288. Shingū literally means 'New Shrine' and refers to Hayatama Shrine, one of the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano. The 'old shrine' would be Kamikura Shrine. Shingū is the central commercial city of the Kumano region in Japan. The city was founded on October 1, 1933. On October 1, 2005 the town of Kumanogawa, from Higashimuro District merged with Shingū.

Shingū was established as a sister city in 1974, when three UC Santa Cruz students were learning Aikido at the historic Kumano Juku Aikido school and resided in Shingū for a year. Each spring and summer, student exchanges take place between Santa Cruz and Shingū. These student delegations arrive and stay with local families to learn firsthand about each other’s culture. Mayoral and business delegations take place every other fall. Santa Cruz Sister Cities Committee has donated $3,000 in funds to Shingū in order for them to help their own sister city of Natori, which was devastated by the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Shingū sent a rescue team and donations in support of Natori.

If you would like more information about sister cities or the Santa Cruz Sister Cities Committee contact Lisa McGinnis who is the Special Events Supervisor for the City of Santa Cruz:
Josh Clevenger
Recreation Supervisor
Santa Cruz Parks & Recreation Dept.
323 Church Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Cell 702-378-2310
Fax 831-420-5271

Article by Manson Chen, July 2011