“No man is an island.”
– John Donne
The Friendship Arch stands as an example of the friendship between Manchester and the wider world. For centuries the city has welcomed migrant and refugee populations seeking to build new lives or avoiding persecution elsewhere.
Manchester’s diverse community is based on migration, sadly often caused by conflict, social injustice or change elsewhere. In the 1800s many Irish people came to the city to escape famine. Anti-Semitic pogroms forced many Jewish people to flee from Russia and East Europe: there is a longstanding Jewish community in Manchester. Since the Second World War citizens from Italy, Poland, the Ukraine, India, Pakistan, West Africa and the Caribbean have made their homes in the city and surrounding areas.
Manchester city centre is home to a strong Chinese community. The arch, given to Manchester by the city of Shanghai as a token of friendship, was constructed by specialist Chinese engineers in 1987. It features images of a dragon and a phoenix, symbolising strength and grace. Together they represent the peaceful union between yin and yang.
Following public riots in 2011, Manchester’s citizens joined together to help clean and clear the damage in the city centre. The I Love MCR campaign was set up to express the city’s resilience, and celebrate community spirit. You will see the logo in shops and on buildings across the city.
Every two years Manchester celebrates its international identity and cultural diversity through the Manchester International Festival, one of the largest of its kind in Europe. Manchester has official friendship agreements with the cities Los Angeles (USA), Wuhan (China), St Petersburg (Russia), Chemnitz (Germany), Faisalabad (Pakistan), Cordoba (Spain), Rehovot (Israel) and Bilwi (Nicaragua). The city hosts one of the largest university communities in the world, with students from the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and neighbouring Salford University.
Manchester has hosted many conferences on international relations and peace building, including the International Peace Society’s 6th congress (1852) and the 5th Pan-African Congress (1945). Manchester holds annual Peace History Conferences, a Peace Festival and many cultural events including its Literature Festival, Food & Drink and Manchester Pride. Renowned for its love of sport, music, politics and the arts, Manchester is one the UK’s top 3 tourist destinations.