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Sister Cities

A photo of Lakeland Sisters Cities International LogoThe Sister Cities concept was developed by President Eisenhower in 1956 to increase international cooperation and understanding by promoting communication at the person-to-person level through city-to-city affiliations.

Lakeland Sister Cities International (LSCI), a chapter of Sister Cities International, was formed in 1990 with a relationship with Richmond Hill, Canada. Subsequently, relationships have been established with Imabari, Balti, Chongming and Portmore. These cities were chosen through direct ties with Lakeland citizens, the interests and commitment by a core group of individuals from both cities and the rich mutual interests of both cities for cultural exchanges.


The mission of LSCI is to develop relationships with people and cities of similar interests to Lakeland. This unique program encourages cultural and educational exchanges, business opportunities and increased tourism by encouraging direct personal and professional relationships at the grass roots level. To accomplish its mission LSCI depends upon a large group of core volunteers who actively participate in a variety of activities, including hosting international visitors. LSCI welcomes organizations and individuals willing to share their skills, talents, training and resources to make a difference in a rapidly changing and interdependent world!

Our Sister Cities 

A photo of Bălți, Moldova

Bălți , Moldova

Bălți, Moldova

Pronounced “Beltz,” Bălți (Balti) is a young democracy and a beautiful country! The City of Lakeland helped create an audiology center there and continues to support this city’s service to veterans, elderly, hearing impaired and orphans. We donated 400+ wheelchairs to the needy in Bălți.

Bălți has been our Sister City since 1997.

Learn more about Bălți, Moldova

A photo of Chongming, China

Chongming, China

Chongming, China

Three of our Sister Cities are on islands, but this friend is the entire island! Near Shanghai on the Yangtze River, the friendly people of Chongming welcome opportunities in Lakeland and their area to promote prosperity via interactions in education, technology, sports, business and culture.

Chongming has been our Sister City since 2007.

Learn more about Chongming District of China

A photo of Imabari, Japan

Imabari, Japan

Imabari, Japan

Imabari is a city in Ehime Prefecture, Japan. High school students from Imabari and Lakeland, Florida travel to each others' Sister Cities in alternate years learning language and living each others culture while building lifelong friendships. Imabari has gifted our art museum and the galleries at City Hall with pieces from their collections, written a bilingual tabloid, and grows as we do through our rich relationship.

Imabari has been our Sister City since 1995.

Learn more about Imabari, Japan

A photo of Portmore, Jamaica

Portmore, Jamaica

Portmore, Jamaica

Portmore is a large coastal town in southern Jamaica in Saint Catherine. It is also a dormitory town for the neighboring cities of Kingston and Spanish Town.  Portmore is happy to connect with Lakeland as a Sister City, and school partnerships have formed. Portmore received a water truck with help from the City of Lakeland and has consulted with Lakeland Parks & Recreation as well as local tourism Departments. Lakelanders have enjoyed the delicious foods of Jamaica via local social events, and sports and economic activity are shared interests for the future with our geographically closest city.

Portmore has been our Sister City since 2009.

Learn more about Portmore, Jamaica

A photo of Richmond Hill, Canada

Richmond Hill, Canada

Richmond Hill is a town in the York Region of Ontario, Canada. Lakeland has enjoyed 20+ years of friendship, past Rotary Club activities & trade agreements with this Ontario city. Lawn bowling, hosting international ice hockey, exchanging students and an occasional round of golf are activities that have been associated with our Canadian Sister City.

Richmond Hill has been our Sister City since 1990.

Learn more about Richmond Hill, Canada

Regional Friendships

Board Members

Tom Palmer  President email
Josh Bolger Vice President email
Colleen Bolger Executive Director/Editor email
Beth Verplanck Treasurer email
Greg Spirakis Balti Chair email
Steve Thomas Balti Chair email
John Philbrook Membership email
Maggie Miller Scholarship email
Josh Bolger Golf email
Warren Robinson Portmore Chair email
Tom Palmer Imabari email
Robert Lee Chongming email
Carol Philbrook Chair Historian email
Mike Musick City Commission Liaison email