International understanding in action
As an international city that welcomes around 12 million visitors every year and has some 45,000 permanent inhabitants with an immigration background, Heidelberg is twinned with no fewer than seven towns around the world: Palo Alto in the USA, the French city of Montpellier, Cambridge in the UK, Rehovot in Israel, Bautzen in Germany, Simferopol in Ukraine and Kumamoto in Japan. The main focus of these partnerships is on academic sciences.
International understanding in action involves a wide range of activities from visits of official delegations and meetings of politicians and administrators to youth events and grass root activities. Since 1996 Heidelberg has also organized an annual International Summer Science School (ISH) that brings together final-year high school students from all its partner cities. Since 2010, the cooperation of the International Summer Science School (ISH) with the National Youth Science Forum allows young scientists from Heidelberg to gather practical experience in Australia.
Heidelberg also has friendly relations with Mostar (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Jelenia Góra (Poland) and Heidelberg (South Africa/Gauteng Province). The city is also currently developing links with Calamba City in the Philippines.
The City of Heidelberg also regards it as important to maintain contact with its Jewish former citizens and their families, and four meetings have already been held for them in the city. Some of these former inhabitants found themselves visiting Germany for the first time since being driven out of the country. In conjunction with a network of cities in the Baden region, the City of Heidelberg is also involved in preserving the former Gurs concentration camp in France as a memorial to the many Heidelberg Jews who were forcibly transported there during World War II.