Aicuña, the Mysterious Albino Town

3 01 2008

A study by John Hopkins University estimates that there is one albino for every seventeen thousand people in the world. In Aicuña, according to Julio César Ormeño, the head of the Vital Records Office, there live about three hundred people. At its most populous, he says, there have been three hundred and fifty. The town is so small that every inhabitant—including the newborns, the elderly, and the church minister—could fit into a movie theater.

Of that total, the head of the Vital Records Office has taken census of four albinos, all men—three that currently live in Aicuña and one who moved to another town two hours away. But his archives also say something more: since the end of the nineteenth century, forty-six albino births have been registered in Aicuña alone.

According to the math, the rate of albinism in Aicuña isn’t one in every seventeen thousand people but rather one in every ninety. Or as Dr. Eduardo Castilla, the author of “Aicuña: A Study of the Population’s Genetic Structure,” maintains: albinism is almost two hundred times more likely to occur in Aicuña than anywhere else on the planet.

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