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Portland’s sister city: Mutare, Zimbabwe

This historic trade hub serves as a gateway to the Eastern Highlands’ national parks, fascinating visitors with rugged mountains and museums.

Trees frame a view of Mutare, Zimbabwe, which sits at the bottom of a verdant valley with high mountain peaks rising behind it on the horizon.

Christmas Pass (pictured) and Cross Kopje offer good vantage points of Mutare.

Photo by Seabifar

Portland’s reason for establishing a sister city relationship with Mutare in 1991 was different than its previous international connections — it wanted to offer humanitarian support to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zimbabwe.

Over the years, the Rose City has sent delegates (health care providers, teachers, civic leaders) in official and personal capacities, bringing school supplies and helping to build facilities. Back home, this mural serves as a poignant reminder of our kinship.

Cultural exchange is still an important part of the equation and there’s so much more to know about this beautiful place. Come with us on the journey.

Key facts

Among dueling British and Portuguese colonial interests Mutare was first established in 1890 on Chief Mutasa’s land as Fort Umtali, a base for gold prospectors. The city was moved several times before settling at its current location, closer to the railway.

Today, daily passenger trains connect Zimbabwe’s capital Harare with Mutare, which has earned the nickname “Gateway to the Eastern Highlands” thanks to its close proximity to the mountains that form the border with Mozambique (access to the Indian Ocean is also not far away on its neighbor’s coast).

Industries are mostly agricultural (tea, tobacco, livestock, and timber) with some manufacturing of automobiles and textiles.

A person poses with two arms up and pointing to the sky atop World's Rest in Zimbabwe

Visitors can take in a breathtaking panorama from World’s View, just outside of Nyanga National Park.

Main attractions

Incredible outdoor recreation can be experienced in nearby national parks (like Nyanga and Chimanimani) and botanical reserves (Vumba is picturesque). If you’re brave enough, thrill seekers can feel the spray of Zimbabwe’s tallest waterfall from the skywalk and zipline.

Back in town, see the region’s quintessential soapstone carvings, among other traditional artworks, at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Mutare. A stop by Mutare Museum is another must, where you’ll find natural history and geology displays, cultural artifacts, plus locomotives and cars in an extensive transportation exhibit.

Other sister cities

Your travels don’t have to end here — visit Portland’s sister city hub.

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