Strasbourg is the capital and largest city of the Grand Est region of France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. It is one of the de facto capitals of the European Union, as it is the seat of several European institutions, such as the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.
Strasbourg's historic city center, was classified a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988. Strasbourg is immersed in Alsatian culture and although violently disputed throughout history, has been a cultural bridge between France and Germany for centuries, especially through the University of Strasbourg, currently the second largest in France.
Economically, Strasbourg is an important center of manufacturing and engineering, as well as a hub of road, rail, and river transportation. The port of Strasbourg is the second largest on the Rhine after Duisburg, Germany.
The cooperation and partnership agreement between the two cities was signed on June 5th, 1998. Strasbourg and Bethlehem represent two cities where different religions co-exist peacefully together, and where Christmas is a key event in the social, municipal and cultural calendar. Cooperation between the two cities has included mutual visits, cultural exchanges and the presence of Bethlehem artisans at the famous Christmas Market of Strasbourg.