Town twinning is the cornerstone and the oldest form of international activities of municipalities and regions. In the Nordic countries, town twinning started already in the late 1930s, making it one of the world’s oldest municipal cooperation arrangements. Up north, the idea behind twinning was neighbourly help, whereas further west, the focus was on reconstruction after the Second World War.
Finnish municipalities and regions have about 1,300 twin towns or regions in over 40 countries, most of them in the neighbouring regions: the Nordic countries, Russia and Estonia. Almost 90% of Finnish municipalities have twinning partnerships. In Europe, the number of twinning links is estimated to be over 20,000.
Twinning partnerships offer good opportunities for collaborating on a wide range of issues and for benchmarking practices and operational models. Town twinning also promotes the internationalisation of the involved parties, for example schools and civic organisations.
Traditionally, twin towns have focused their activity on cultural, sports, youth and pupil exchanges, but over the past years the trend has been towards strategic and sectoral networking and economic policy cooperation.
The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities keeps track of the twinning and other international activities of Finnish municipalities and regions.