Velikaya Kopanya village is better known as Ukraine’s ‘Land of the Twins’ because of its record-breaking 61 pairs of twins among the less than 4,000 inhabitants. The village is soon expected to be included in the Guinness Book of World Records, having already made its way into Ukraine’s record book.
According to locals, the number of twins born in the village is higher than anywhere else in the country. “The ultimate baby boom came in the year 2004,” said local councillor Maryana Savka. “But ever since then we are having at least between two and three sets of twins born every year.”
Maria Chorba, the town’s oldest twin with three pairs of twins among her own grandchildren, said the town’s twin-phenomenon is not a recent one. “When we were growing up we had some friends who were twins, so we are definitely not the first ones here,” she said, recalling her twin sister Anna who died in 2007. “No one could tell us apart. Later Anna moved to live far away and we met only once a year. But if she would get sick I would know that straight away. And then I felt that something really bad had happened to her – at the very moment she died.”
Photo: Karpat News
While the older twins have mostly moved out of the village, it’s the younger, school-going twins that are more conspicuous. A 2010 BBC report featured Misha and Vanya Fogorosh, 10 years old at the time. The identical twins would dress in similar clothes, making it difficult for even their father to tell them apart. “A few times in school when Vanya did not do his homework I pretended to be him and got a good grade for him,” Misha said. There were 58 pairs of twins in Velikaya Kopanya at the time, and despite the steady exodus, the number has now risen to 61 pairs.
What’s shocking is that the twin-effect is not just limited to the human inhabitants of the village. The number of twin cows born in the area is record high. Locals believe there’s “something in the water” – they claim that the local spring has special properties that boost fertility. In fact, they tell a story of a woman from a town about 100 miles away who, unable to have children, would drive to the village to drink its water. A few months later, she conceived – twins, of course.
Photo: Karpat News
Ukrainian scientists have studied the water carefully, but haven’t noticed anything special about it apart from the fact that it’s very clean. Which is probably the main reason why people from neighboring towns and villages come to collect it. Several cars can always be spotted parked at the foot of the mountain, and men collecting the water in barrels.
“Even if they privatise this spring and start selling water, I’ll pay for it,” a man named Konstantin, who drives 50 km every week to collect the water, told the BBC in 2010. “At home I’ve got yellow filthy water coming out of the taps and a filter just doesn’t help – it’s so full of metals. This is the cleanest and tastiest water in the whole region!”
Photo: Radio Svoboda
Apparently, it’s not just the village water that people from outside line up for. “Actually we’ve got queues of suitors for girls from our village – we are that popular,” local restaurant owner Maria Fyodoranich said. “Everyone wants our genes. And it’s all because of this water.”
Velikaya Kopanya is not the world’s only twin-prone area. In the past, we wrote about other lands of twins around the world, like Cândido Godói, a small town in Southern Brazil, Igbo-Obra, in southwestern Nigeria and Kodinhi, India’s Village of Twins.