The 10 countries with the most centenarians

Oluwatoni Olujinmi

Welcome to our fascinating exploration of the world’s centenarians. These remarkable individuals, who have celebrated their 100th birthday, are like living history books, having witnessed a century of changes and events. Their presence in various countries doesn’t just signify personal health triumphs but also shines a light on the unique blend of genetics, lifestyle, and social factors that nurture such longevity. 

A global overview of centenarian population

Globally, the number of centenarians has been steadily increasing. According to the latest reports, there are now over half a million centenarians worldwide, a number that is expected to climb rapidly in the coming decades.

This rise can be attributed to advancements in healthcare, better nutrition, and overall improvements in living standards.

The 10 countries with the most centenarians

1. Japan (98,000)

Japan tops the list with the highest number of centenarians. Here, a harmonious blend of a healthy diet rich in fish, vegetables, and rice, coupled with a strong sense of community and an excellent healthcare system, paves the way for a long life. The island of Okinawa is renowned as a ‘Blue Zone’ where longevity is a common part of life.

2. United States (97,000)

In the United States, diversity is key. With advancements in healthcare and an emphasis on active aging, the number of centenarians is on a steady rise. The U.S. demonstrates that even in a land of varied lifestyles and healthcare disparities, longevity is an achievable dream.

3. Italy (22,000)

Famous for its Mediterranean diet, which is laden with olive oil, fresh vegetables, and fish, Italy sees a high number of centenarians, particularly in regions like Sardinia. Sardinians also maintain vigorous physical activity well into old age and often consume a diet high in beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The Italian approach to life, one that values leisure, family, and food certainly seems to pay off in years.

4. Spain (18,000) and France (30,000)

Next, we visit Spain and France, where the Mediterranean lifestyle continues to work its magic. Spain, with a growing number of centenarians, especially in rural areas, attributes its longevity to the Mediterranean lifestyle, leisure, and family values. Regular physical activity, a diet rich in fresh produce, and a strong social fabric contribute to their impressive centenarian populations.

5. United Kingdom (18,000)

The UK has witnessed a notable increase in its centenarian population. Thanks to improved living standards and healthcare over the last century, more Brits are joining the centenarian club than ever before. The UK greatly advanced in public health policies and senior care, contributing to increased life expectancy.

6. Greece

In Greece, the secrets of longevity are intertwined with the Mediterranean diet and an outdoor lifestyle, particularly in Ikaria, which has a notable number of centenarians. The Greek philosophy of life, which emphasizes social engagement and a balanced approach to work and leisure, certainly adds years to life.

7. South Korea (22,000)

South Korea presents a fascinating mix of traditional practices and cutting-edge healthcare. The country’s centenarian population is rapidly increasing, especially in urban areas. The diet is rich in vegetables, seafood, and fermented foods. Advances in healthcare and technology, combined with traditional lifestyles, are influential.

8. Brazil (23,000)

In Brazil, the zest for life and strong family bonds play a crucial role in the lives of its elderly. Despite facing various healthcare challenges, the number of centenarians in Brazil is steadily growing, showcasing the resilience and strength of its people.

9. Canada (13,000)

Canada’s centenarian population, particularly among women, is on the rise. Its strong healthcare system and emphasis on an active lifestyle, even in the colder regions, contribute to the growing population of centenarians. Canadians show us that even in the chill, life can thrive well into the 100s.

10. Germany (23,000)

Rounding off our list is Germany, where a combination of excellent healthcare, a diet rich in variety, and an active approach to aging helps more Germans reach their centennial birthdays. Although the diet varies regionally it generally includes whole grains, vegetables, and meats. Excellent social services and a culture that promotes active aging are key.

Longevity is beyond just fate

Our global tour of the top 10 countries with the most centenarians reveals a common thread: a balance of diet, healthcare, community, and lifestyle.

Each country brings its unique flavor to the recipe for longevity. Whether it’s the Mediterranean diet or the technological advancements in healthcare, these nations show us that reaching 100 might not just be a matter of fate but a combination of culture, care, and perhaps, a little bit of luck.

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