Society - Culture
By: - at February 26, 2015

Top 15 Countries with the Longest Life Expectancy

World Map showing the countries with the longest life expectancy

On July 16, 2013, Carmelo Flores Laura made news by becoming the oldest person in the world. The previous record holder was a 115-year-old Japanese woman, Misao Okawa. According to Bolivia’s public records, Laura had reached the tender age of 123. These kinds of reports are becoming more commonplace, not just because of advances in modern medicine, but because of innovations in technology as well as upgrades in how birth certificates are maintained.

Carmelo Flores Laura:
Carmelo Flores Laura

Misao Okawa:
Misao Okawa

While being the oldest living person may not be one of your life’s goals, extending your life and enhancing its quality are probably important to you. Although some people attribute a long life to genetics and luck, in actuality, one's culture and quality of life play a big part as well. Therefore, people in certain parts of the world tend to live longer than people in other locales. So, where do the people reside who enjoy a longer expectancy of life?

15)  France - Life Expectancy:  81.56 years
As a key member of the European Union, France’s economy and politics always have had a significant impact on European trade and tourism. The country's population is diverse, and includes people from such geographic locales as North Africa and Indochina. While most of the country still holds loose ties to Catholicism, the practice of Islam has brought France's Muslim believers into focus as well, particularly with respect to certain controversial bans - such as the wearing of veils by women who practice the Islam faith. The veil, or hijab, covers everything except the hands and face. Besides it diverse representation demographically, France also spends 11.9 percent of its GDP on health care and supports roughly 3.5 physicians per 1,000 citizens.

french flag of france

In addition, the French are notably associated with their cuisine, which features rich fats, decadent chocolates and a varying list of wines. Many people in the country still smoke heavily, despite the warnings and dangers connected with the habit. At first glance, you might not think this kind of life style would be conducive to a long and healthy life.

By David Monniaux via Wikimedia Commons

However, medical researchers have also concluded that moderate red wine consumption can improve cardiovascular health and chocolate is a proven antioxidant. In addition, certain fats, when considered healthy, can lead to lowering unhealthy levels of fat or cholesterol. The French people also enjoy a more laid-back pace - savoring the simple pleasures in life. Perhaps, that is why France was home to the longest-living individual up until 1997.

14)  Jersey - Life Expectancy:  81.57 years
Jersey is a an island state that represents what is left of the dukedom of Normandy. Located off France's Normandy coast, Jersey is a dependency ruled by the UK. Officially known as the Baliwick of Jersey, the dependency of the British crown is the largest of the Channel Islands. The island state maintains its own legal, financial, and judicial systems and is considered a self-governing democracy, overseen by a constitutional monarchy. Therefore, this particular "Jersey" is not related to the "Jersey" in the U.S. Also, because of its status, Jersey is not a member of the European Union (EU). However, the dependency does maintain a relationship with the EU, and is permitted to practice free trade under its own name.

flag of Jersey

Farmland covers over half of the island. Therefore, agriculture is one of the primary ways of making a living. However, financial services also contribute to the revenue generated in the UK-dependent territory. For its size, Jersey has significant buying power per citizen, and its standard of living is equal, for the most part, to that of the U.K. Jersey also brings in a fair share of tourism as its primary language has been English since the early part of the 20th century. One of the events that draws the interest of tourists is the Battle of Flowers, which features a carnival of flower floats and ends with a fireworks finale. Evidently, people live long on Jersey because of its high standard of living and the residents have a penchant for having fun.

Island of Jersey's Location:
Island of Jersey's Location
By Europe-Northern_Cyprus via Wikimedia Commons

13)  Canada - Life Expectancy:  81.57 years
Retaining ties to the British crown, Canada has been an independently governed federal dominion since 1867. The country, which ranks 11th on the human development scale, strives to support an ethnically and culturally diverse populace. Canada also takes a strong stance when it comes to supporting its citizens educationally and economically. While the standard of living in Canada often parallels closely with its southern neighbor, the U.S., the country surpasses other developed nations in terms of health care services, trade networking, natural resources, and its economy.

canadian flag of canada

Canada, as a result, has the ninth highest per capita income in the world, and an international reputation for excellence.

12)  Liechtenstein - Life Expectancy:  81.59 years
This postage stamp country boasts the highest per capita GDP worldwide, and the lowest unemployment rate among its 35,000 citizens. The country also has the smallest external debt and is known as a tax haven. Despite its size - 62 square miles of landlocked countryside, Liechtenstein is divided into 11 separate municipalities.

Liechtenstein map

The alpine nation draws plenty of tourists, many of whom enjoy winter sports activities. Visitors also like the novelty associated with visiting the world's smallest German-speaking county.

map of  Liechtenstein
By Maximilian Dörrbecker via Wikimedia Commons

11)  Italy - Life Expectancy:  81.95 years
Italy, the noted seat of Western civilization, is home to the ancient city of Rome, the country's capital. Italy's cultural and political influence prevail throughout Europe, especially with respect to the country's industries. Auto manufacturing and fashion design figure prominently into the country's economy. In turn, citizens enjoy a higher quality of life and a longer life expectancy.

italian flag of italy

What is striking about the country is its rich diversity, thanks to the country’s varied regional departments, each which possess a cultural character of its own. While Italy is well-recognized for its contributions to the visual and performing arts and advances in science and engineering, the country is perhaps best known for its delicious and refined Mediterranean and Tuscan cuisine.

map of italy

Therefore, Italians enjoy pasta, fish and vegetables along with olive oil and seasoned sauces. Fresh food is prized and its emphasis in cooking results in a variety of healthy and flavorful choices. Italians, then, often shun processed foods in favor of organic and classic entrees. These preferences give Italy a reputation in the international marketplace - a venue where cold cuts, cheese, and wine are considered global delicacies. Italian methods of preparing coffee, too, have become a phenomenon. Both espresso and cappuccino have become trend-setting drinks in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

10)  Australia - Life Expectancy:  81.98 years
Holding the title of world’s smallest continent, the land down under is now enjoying a surge of popularity in the global market due, in part, to trade and business reforms, which were begun in the 1980s.

map of Australia

Aboriginal people have lived on the country and continent for many millennia, but its settlement by the English is relatively new. Australia also possesses some of the harshest terrain and most dangerous wildlife in the world. Often people joke in the tourism trade that "everything in Australia is trying to kill you."

However, that being said, the government still pays careful attention to the needs of its people, particularly in the areas of education and health care. Therefore, public service announcements (PSAs) are often directed toward public health campaigns, and preventative care is frequently encouraged. Mental and emotional health are considered just as important as one's physical well-being to many of the country’s inhabitants. As a result, the medical needs of people are taken seriously.

map of australia

Both exploration and mining are major economic activities, and therefore lend to the country's financial prosperity. Even during the recent global recession, Australia remained economically secure. Abundant natural resources also contribute to financial stability.

9)  Hong Kong - Life Expectancy:  82.20 years
Hong Kong holds a dual language status, with its official languages being both Cantonese and English. The languages reflect Hong Kong’s diverse and troubled history as both a Chinese holding and occupied territory of the U.K. Since 1997, Hong Kong has officially been part of the country of China, and currently experiences a good deal more autonomy than it did under the British crown. The country is strong economically and continues to make strides in the financial and technological sectors, all which are aided by a free market - one that is not affected by the socialist stance of the Chinese.

flag of hong kong

Covering only 426 square miles, Hong Kong is home to 7 million people, all which also makes it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. However, the quality of life is high as the country is a key international player in the financial industry. The country's low taxes and service-oriented, capitalist economy contribute to its prosperity. Plus, the country's currency--the Hong Kong dollar--is the eighth most traded currency in the world.

By Croquant via Wikimedia Commons

Despite enduring two economic downturns, Hong Kong still remains economically viable, evidenced by its minimum wage, compulsory pensions and other labor-related amendments and reforms. The country is currently the 8th most expensive country in which to live for expatriates. However, that particular fact does not stymie or stop immigration.

8)  Switzerland - Life Expectancy:  82.28 years
A neighbor of number 12 ranked Liechtenstein, this idyllic alpine country is backed by an economy that is notably bolstered by a healthy financial sector. Swiss banks, which are defined by affluence and wealth, maintain an impartial role in the world of business. The country also conveys a neutral view politically. Switzerland has not been involved in an international conflict since 1815. The origin of the Red Cross, Switzerland has worked diligently in many countries to promote unity and ongoing communications. Even though it has only been a member of the UN since 2002, Switzerland has been instrumental in promoting peace in other countries.

Switzerland flag

In turn, peace-loving country is home to several historical sites where well-known and influential treaties have been signed. One of the cities used for these meetings as been Geneva. Switzerland is the home of a large number of Nobel Prize winners as well. In fact, more people have won Nobel prizes, per capita, than any other place worldwide. Prize winners have worked in the fields of research and development, and have also been recipients of the Peace prize.

map of Switzerland

The diet of the country combines both French and German cuisines and is also influenced by recipes from immigrants from other parts of the world.

7)  Guernsey - Life Expectancy:  82.32 years
Like Jersey, Guernsey is a Bailiwick, making it a British crown dependency. It is another member of the Channel Islands that lies off the coast of the French coast of Normandy. Because Guernsey is considered a common travel area of the UK, it boasts a healthy tourist trade. Like Jersey, Guernsey is not a part of the European Union (EU), However, the dependency does enjoy free trade as a recognized member of the European community. Importing and exporting activities are conducted in Guernsey's many ports.

Guernsey flag

The country enjoys warm, sunny summers and mild, rainy winters. While it has plenty of farmland, Guernsey makes most of its income from the financial and tourism sectors. Hotels therefore rival banks as both are considered Guernsey's most prosperous businesses. One of the island's famous hotels is the Duke of Normandy Hotel in St. Peter's Port - known to have accommodated a number of famous guests, including British actor, Robert Oliver Reed.

Guernsey map

One of the unique features of Guernsey is its real estate market, which is split between local and open market properties. While open market properties are bought or held like most real estate, local market residences are reserved for native born citizens, or for people who have obtained a housing license to live in the country. By using these kinds of controls, non-citizens are prevented from owning property. For instance, housing licenses are only held for four-year periods, and are only issued after an applicant meets certain stipulations, including employment with a specified Guernsey employer.

6)  Andorra - Life Expectancy:  82.58 years
The principality of Andorra lies in the eastern Pyrenees Mountains, bordered by both Spain and France. Its neighbors have had a great influence on the culture of this nation, which is the 6th smallest country on the European continent. While the official language is Catalan, Spanish, French and Portuguese are regularly spoken as well. Comprised of approximately 85,000 inhabitants, Andorra spends 7.5 percent of its GDP on health care annually, which covers 3.72 physicians per 1000 residents. In fact, the small country boasts more doctors per capita than France.

andorra flag

Although Andorra is not a member of the European Union (EU), the Euro is its primary currency. Andorra is not only a noted tax haven, it also receives 10.2 million visitors annually, thereby making it a desirable tourist spot. As a result, Andorra's citizens enjoy a high quality of life and a healthy economy.

map of andorra

Folk music and dances figure prominently into Andorra’s culture as well as religion. Andorra’s one national holiday falls on September 8th, and celebrates Our Lady of Meritxell, the patron saint of the country. According to legend, Our Lady of Meritxell is the Virgin Mary, personified by a miraculous statue. The stone figure was discovered beside a rose plant, blooming out of season.

Andorra apparently has not seen a real need for defense as its annual defense budget in the 60s was only $4.90.

5)  San Marino - Life Expectancy:  83.12 years
San Marino is a 24 square mile microstate whose 30,000 inhabitants are surrounded by the country of Italy. Holding the smallest population of any member of the International Council of Europe, the country is dedicated to seeking continuing improvements in the the areas of communication and human development. A constitutional republic, the small country is considered to be the oldest surviving sovereign state in the world.

San Marino flag

Originally, San Marino served as a monastic community, formed by Marinus in Alba in 257 A.D. The area was established as a nation in 301 A.D. San Marino's books of law were codified in the 1500s, all which comprise six works in Latin called the Leges Statutae Republicae Sancti Marini. The country has been able to last as long as it has, primarily because of its out-of-the-way location in the Apennine Mountains.

San Marino boasts a budget surplus, no national debt, and therefore a prosperous economy - comparable to, if not better, than European nations many times its size. San Marino's economy is driven by tourism as well as financial services, all which gives its inhabitants a higher quality of life. The university in San Marino is also a prized center of learning and is known for its prestigious programs in music and science.

map of san marino

The university is unique in that it offers courses that are taught in Esperanto. Esperanto, itself, is a language that was first introduced by Dr. L.L. Zamenhof in 1887. The second language is designed so people can speak different native languages while maintaining their own language and cultural identity. Many learners report that Esperanto is a very easy to learn.

4)  Singapore - Life Expectancy:  84.07 years
Like Hong Kong, Singapore has an unusual and varied history, experiencing varying periods of rule by different nations. The country's reign under the British crown was one of the most influential, and left a mark on the culture of the country as well as its spoken languages. English is spoken as well as several Asian languages. Also, Singapore is one of the five busiest ports in the world. Its diverse economy is fueled by technology, electronics, the service industry, finance, tourism and trade. Overcoming a past, defined by poverty and violence, Singapore is now focused on becoming the model city of the future.

Singapore flag

Singapore's rich cultural heritage can be enjoyed in museums and temples, including its botanical gardens, which are also a showcase for the orchid, or the national flower. High level botanical research and horticultural activities are conducted at the gardens, where tourists can take home beautiful specimens of flowers.

map of singapore

To encourage international tourism, Singapore relaxes the tax laws for foreigners. The country is also known for its exciting hotels, including its newest tower featuring an infinity pool, a rooftop pool, with no visible boundary, whose water seems to flow endlessly.

3)  Japan - Life Expectancy:  84.19 years
Known as the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan is home to the world’s 4th largest economy. Its GDP lends the country considerable weight in the global marketplace as well as gives its citizens a better-than-average quality of life.

flag of japan

While the country formerly fell behind in the area of mental health, recent reforms have enabled health care providers to meet all patient health care needs. Hospitals and clinics use a holistic approach to health while utilizing the latest innovations in modern technology. Besides offering alternative medicines, Japan is also a reputed leader in biomedical and pharmacological research. Given that Japan excels in these areas, it's not surprising that its citizens enjoy a longer life. In fact, some of the elderly who live on Japan's outlying islands are said to live well past the age of 100.

japan map

Fishing and aquaculture are important to Japan's economy as are the country's industrial and service sectors. Even in this modern age, fishermen work under physically exhausting and dangerous conditions, all which means they must stay in top shape both mentally and physically. However, the physical demands placed on people in the industry may also, ironically, lead to a longer life. After all, a sedentary lifestyle typically is not synonymous with a lengthy life.

2)  Macau - Life Expectancy:  84.46 years
Macau is a special administrative region of China, similar to Hong Kong, its neighbor lying to the northeast. A former Portuguese colony, Macau became the last remaining European holding in Asia in 1997 when Hong Kong ceded to China. Macau, followed, ceding to China in 1999 after Portugal's lease for its trading port had ended with China. Macau now maintains a high degree of autonomy, and will remain antonymous until at least 2049 under an agreement instituted with mainland China.

Macau flag

Macau’s economy is bolstered by manufacturing. However, because of the country's favorable tax status, it is also highly dependent, in great part, on gambling and tourism. The country ranks high on the human development index of countries worldwide.

By Sémhur via Wikimedia Commons

Macau's primary deity is its patroness - the goddess Matsu, who watches over seafarers and fishermen. The name of the country is derived from the name of the goddess' temple.

1)  Monaco - Life Expectancy:  89.63 years
The Principality of Monaco, which is located along the popular and stylish French Riviera, is mainly noted for its casino activities. The world renowned hot spot is the place where the global elite go to flaunt their celebrity and wealth.

monaco flag

The city-state's status as a tax haven also makes the principality very attractive to the very rich. Star-studded Monaco attracts Formula One drivers as well as actors and affluent business people. The late Grace Kelly was once the most famous resident of the country. The beautiful actress wed Prince Rainier III in 1956.

map and location of monaco

Final Words
If you hail from one of the countries or dependencies on the aforementioned list, give yourself a pat on the back. Barring accident or a severe illness, you have an advantage over your global peers. However, if you are not a resident, you need not despair as longevity is not necessarily contingent on one's region or country. For example, the oldest person on record, Carmelo Flores Laura, was born in Bolivia, a South American country which ranks 161 out of 223 countries in terms of life expectancy. The 120+ year-old man was born in 1890 - his baptismal certificate confirming his date of birth. The oldster attributes his long life to eating the grain quinoa and to taking long walks.

So, while the place where you live can definitely influence longevity, your personal lifestyle has to be factored into the equation too. By eating right, getting plenty of exercise, and making friends with your doctor, you, too, may be able to experience life for 100 years or more. It's also good to know which countries have the lowest life expectancies. That way, you'll know what not to do to enjoy a longer life.





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