The 16 Countries Where People Live the Longest

The 16 Countries Where People Live the Longest

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1. Japan

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There are more than 58,000 Japanese who are older than 100, making the country the world’s leader for people who live over 80. All the credit for the longevity is given to a predominantly healthy diet, which includes a lot of fish, rice, tofu, soy, vegetables, and small portions.

The small island of Okinawa is one of the Blue Zones. People there go on morning walks, take dance lessons or teach karate. They stay active. When Michael Booth, a reporter for The Guardian, visited Okinawa to investigate the population’s diet, he was fed “rice and tofu, bamboo shoots, seaweed, pickles, small cubes of pork belly and a little cake at the local ‘longevity café.’”

Interestingly enough, Okinawans actually age slower also because, according to a study, people there have a higher level of sex hormones.

2. Italy

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Average life expectancy: 82.12 years

According to a medical journal review, Italians live longer due to a reduced poverty gap that is smaller than in other countries. The standard of living has increased for everybody, which means most people are able to afford better food.

Sardinia is another Blue Zone. Older people there feel happier because they are appreciated. According to the Blue Zones website, a few important Sardinian principles include: Putting family first, celebrating elders, walking more, and laughing with friends. Also, residents often walk, one of the easiest ways to stay in shape for longer and maintain good physical health.

3. Greece

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Average life expectancy: 80.43 years

Greece is on the list of countries where people tend to live longer because of its small Island in the Aegean Sea called Ikaria, another Blue Zone. There, the locals live relaxed lives. They take naps, don’t hurry too much, and keep an avid social life. They eat healthy too – mostly home-grown vegetables – and a lot of olive oil. A 2012 NY Times article, which dubbed Ikaria as “the island where people forget to die,” listed their diet. Lunch is almost always beans (lentils, garbanzos), potatoes, greens (fennel, dandelion or a spinach-like green called horta) and whatever seasonal vegetables produced from the garden; dinner was bread and goat’s milk. The locals also drink many antioxidant-rich herbal teas made with ingredients like wild mint or rosemary.

4. Loma Linda, California

Photo Modified: Flickr / Irina Patrascu Gheorghita / CC BY 4.0

Average life expectancy: 10 years longer than average America

Loma Linda is the fourth Blue Zone on the list. People there live longer because most of them are members of the Seventh-day Adventist. They don’t smoke, drink coffee, or drink alcohol. They also spend a lot of time exercising, according the Blue Zone website. They also eat early and light dinners, have a mostly vegetarian diet, drink a lot of water, and socialize. Refined sugars are avoided completely. The locals’ spirituality may also be a factor. A study has suggested that people who go to church on regular basis tend to live longer and are a lot less stressed.

5. Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

Photo Modified: Flickr / Marissa Strniste/ CC BY 4.0

The people in the fifth Blue Zone follow simple living philosophies: Drink a lot of water, put family first, eat small dinners, keep a friendly social life, and get enough sunshine. Locals eat a lot of beans, corn, squash, papayas, bananas and peach palms. Residents feel like they have direction and a purpose because of strong community ties, which can actually help you live longer, according to a study published in Psychological Science.

6. Monaco

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Average life expectancy: 89.52 years

Monaco, with a population of about 38,000, has the highest number of millionaires and billionaires per capita in the world. They can afford to eat healthy, exercise, and not stress about everyday issues. Also, rich countries can spend a lot more on healthcare. Monaco’s is state-funded and provides easy access to all citizens. Bordering the Mediterranean Sea, it’s not a surprise that the people of Monaco eat a lot of fish, fruits, and vegetables. Studies have shown that Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest ever.

7. Macau

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Average life expectancy: 84.51 years

People there make a lot of money and the healthcare system is very good. A lot of the money generated from casinos — the backbone of the economy — are invested in healthcare. Macau is also the fourth-wealthiest territory in the world, according to the CIA World Factbook, which means people have more money to spend on good food and healthy lifestyle choices. Strong family relations, typical for Chinese culture, are known to keep people healthier and happier for longer.

8. San Marino

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Average life expectancy: 83.24 years

The cuisine is Mediterranean — focusing on fresh and locally grown fruits, vegetables, event pasta, and meat. The country, which is landlocked in Italy, has an advanced agriculture. Employment rates are high, and people don’t stress so much over how they are going to pay the mortgage. San Marino produces lots of corn, olives, grapes, and wheat.

9. Andorra

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Average life expectancy: 82.72 years

Andorra is a small country in the mountains between France and Spain. The air is cleaner and people are more active because nature is all around and citizens walk and bike often. They also frequently go to the gym, where they participate in exercise classes. Locals eat a lot of lamb, a good source of protein, iron, vitamin B12 and niacin, and consume plenty of dairy products.

10. Guernsey

Average life expectancy: 82.47 years

The island of Guernsey, which has about 65,000 residents, is very wealthy, and its residents can afford a high quality of life where they eat healthy food, exercise and don’t worry much. The healthcare system is excellent (and expensive). Taxes are low and jobs pay very well. Very few are manual labor, which reduces the risk for accidents.

11. Singapore

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Average life expectancy: 84.68 years

Singapore has often been used as an example of how to build a prosperous nation. The city-state’s economy is strong, thus its healthcare system is very efficient. Efforts put into early prevention and detection of chronic diseases, as well as close monitoring by doctors, have paid off. The people of Singapore also follow a healthy diet, eating foods rich in nutrients and antioxidants – fish, rice, and noodles.

12. Hong Kong

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Average life expectancy: 82.86 years

Hong Kong is a surprise entry to the list. It’s infamous for air pollution, boosted by the more than 7 million people living in close proximity.

But medical treatment has gotten better and people are generally very active. Many practice martial arts, such as Tai Chi, their entire lives, which helps with longevity, according to studies. People also prefer steamed food, as opposed to fried, and drink a lot of tea. Most of the protein Chinese consume is from plant sources.

13. Australia

Average life expectancy: 82.15 years

Aussies may be getting fatter and more anxious, but they’re still expected to live a long time. This is due to a new and improved healthcare system and generally high standard of living. Another reason is that residents are better educated about how to stay healthy and why it’s important, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics. "Health literacy, access to services and socio-demographic background are all factors in leading a long, healthy life," said Dr. Steve Hambleton, President of the Australian Medical Association.

14. Israel

Average life expectancy: 82.27 years

Military service for men is mandatory in Israel and almost every time the country is in the news lately, it terrorism and nuclear threats. Yet, despite the constant stressful situations, people there have longer life expectancy than many other countries.

“The Israeli population has developed a mechanism of adapting to the existing stress,” according to Ynet News. The longevity has been caused in part by optimism. “When people are optimistic, they have something to live for. They have children, establish families, and dedicate their lives to their families, believing that they have something worth investing in.”

15. Switzerland

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Average life expectancy: 82.5 years

The Swiss are some of the happiest people on the planet and they also enjoy one of the most thriving economies in the world. The people are rich, the government is stable, which means little or no conflict, and the healthcare system is regarded as one of the best in the world.

Switzerland doesn’t have many natural resources so it has chosen to invest in developing people’s talents.  Between health, money, happiness, and chocolate, nothing is sweeter than life in Switzerland.

16. Iceland

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Average life expectancy: 82.97 years

Everything is right in Iceland. People eat simple – lots of seafood, dairy from grass-fed cows, and locally grown produce with no pesticides. Locals swim a lot. (You would too is you had natural hot springs nearly everywhere you turn). People use them for family fun and to relax. Icelanders also spend much of their time exercising to beat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which affects many in the winter when there is little sunlight.