Indianapolis Sister Cities: Taipei, Taiwan

Did you know Indianapolis has nine sister cities?

A sister city relationship is established when mayors of two cities sign a memorandum of understanding. Sister Cities were created in 1956 at a White House Summit initiated by President Eisenhower. This initiative promotes cultural exchange between cities.


Taipei is located on the northern tip of Taiwan, and became a sister city to Indianapolis in 1978, under Mayor William Hudnut. The partnership was the first for Indianapolis and the hope was to create a global economy and strengthen international friendship. The partnership has promoted relations between Indiana and Taiwan, and a year after Taipei was established as Indianapolis’s sister city, Taiwan and Indiana formed a sister state relationship.

Indianapolis vs. Taipei

Indianapolis Taipei
Year Established 1821 Early 18th Century
Population Estimated 838,000 people About 2.7 million people
Size 368 square miles 104.9 square miles
Number of Sister Cities 9 48

 Brief History

Taipei was founded in the early 18th century by Chinese immigrants from the Fujian province in China and became important for overseas trade by the 19th century. In 1895, Taiwan was acquired by Japan as part of a peace agreement between China and Japan.  The island returned to China in 1945, after Japan’s defeat in World War II.

The city expanded and became a special municipality, which gave Taipei administrative status of a province. Over the years, the city annexed neighboring towns and the population exceeded two million by the mid-1970s.


Taiwan’s culture is a melting pot of different Asian cultures. The culture’s origin mostly comes from the Chinese, which is a patriarchal society. The society’s focus is on family, career, and education. There is also Japanese influence, which gives high status to the military.


Last month, June, Taiwan celebrated the Dragon Boat Festival, which happens on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. It is a holiday that honors the dead and is celebrated by the living. Families and friends get to watch dragon boat races and eat dumplings. Festival- goers try to balance a raw egg on its end at noon, signifying good fortune for the remainder of the year. Not only is this a popular sport in Taiwan, but there are also dragon boat races in the U.S. Indy has their own team, Indy SurviveOars, that competes across the nation.



Other popular holidays include Chinese New Year, Tomb-Sweeping Day, and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Chinese New Year happens on the first day of the first month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. The holiday lasts for fifteen days. Many people travel to see family and most shops are closed during this time. Festivals are held in all the surrounding villages and towns. Many Chinese traditions, like dragon and lion dances and big feasts, are part of the celebration. Because of the increase in tourism, most hotels and tourist spots stay open.

Tomb-Sweeping Day, annually celebrated on April 5, is a day of honoring departed ancestors. Families remember their deceased family members by cleaning and offering sacrifices to them. Another part of this holiday is spending time with family by cooking, eating, relaxing, and exploring nature in rural Taiwan.

Mid-Autumn Festival, which happens on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the Han Chinese Calendar, marks the fall harvest. This festival is also called the Moon Festival and people go moon gazing and eat mooncakes. Barbeques are also a popular activity, especially in the parks along the rivers in Taipei.

Popular Food

There is a lot to offer when it comes to Taiwanese cuisine. They are known for their fresh sea food, street food, and local night markets. There are three must-try foods that stand out.

Pearl tea milk, also known as bubble tea or boba tea, is a tapioca ball-filled drink, with jelly-like pearls, or bubbles, at the bottom of the drink. Bubble tea can be made with different teas and “bubbles” and is often served with a large straw.

Beef noodles is a well-known dish in Taiwan. Taipei is home to the most expensive bowl of beef noodles, but they can be found in shops all over. Each vendor makes its noodles slightly different, so it will be a new experience each time.

Pineapple cake is a small pastry filled with pineapple paste and is a well-known dessert in Taiwan. They can be found anywhere, but it’s best to stay away from convenient store pineapple cake. The cake is also a popular souvenir to take home for family and friends.

Taipei Today

The Taipei City Council finds international relationships important and supports the policy of people-to-people diplomacy. In 2002, Taiwan joined the World Trade Organization and has increased their presence in the world economy.

The city is constantly trying to improve international relationships and friendships. Taipei currently has 48 sister cities, 12 of which are in the United States. The Indianapolis-Taipei Sister City Committee creates exchanges between the two cities by bringing art and performances to Indy. Learn more about the committees previous or future events on Eventbrite.

By: Mikaylin Fulk, Marketing and Communications Intern