As modern medicine and our understanding of health has developed, humans have been living longer than ever. (In the past fifty years, the average life expectancy in the United States alone has increased by ten years.) Various factors are associated with longer life, including a healthy diet, a comprehensive healthcare system, and strong social connections. Countries bearing these traits see their citizens living into their 80’s. Beyond these three keystones, a few more trends emerge: women outlive men in almost every country; wealthier countries have higher life expectancies; and, universal healthcare is present in nearly all top countries. Do you think you can guess which countries have the highest life expectancies? From a Caribbean island to a major Asian player, a heavy-drinking country to a heavy-smoking country, the countries on this list may surprise you. Find out if your country ranks in the top 25 in this list of the 25 Countries with the Highest Life Expectancies in the World.
NB: Data for this list has been pulled from the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs World Population Prospects (2015 Revision). Different reporting agencies list slightly different numbers and sometimes categorize countries differently. For instance, the CIA classifies Monaco and San Marino as individual countries; they then list both lands in the top five. (Monaco’s average life expectancy at birth is even a whopping 89.52 years, blowing all other countries out of the water by at least five years.) However, numbers for these countries can be skewed as many of them have large, wealthy immigrant populations who live longer and highly affect the data. Thus, the UN report is used.
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Finland & Belgium - 80.52
Starting off our list of countries with the highest life expectancies are Finland and Belgium, both sharing the 25th spot. The two highly-affluent European countries hint at a common trend throughout the data: citizens of wealthier countries tend to live longer. Though money doesn’t buy happiness (well, that’s not entirely true but we’ll leave that for another list), money can buy higher quality food, cleaner environments, and better healthcare.
Portugal & Guadeloupe - 80.54
Coming in at 80.54 years, citizens of Portugal and Guadeloupe (a French overseas territory in the Caribbean Sea) are the only other areas to share a spot on our list. Guadeloupe’s relaxed, island lifestyle contributes to a laid-back style of living, helpful in keeping stress levels low and life expectancy high. Portugal, despite not being as wealthy as other European Union members, has the 12th best public health system in the world and its people enjoy living with a strong gusto for life and family.
Ireland - 80.57
Ireland’s high life expectancy may be a bit more than the luck of the Irish. Though alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver affects thousands of Irish people every year, it’s possible that the positive attitudes most residents of the Emerald Isle have produces a beneficial effect on long life.
Greece - 80.6
Just as confusing as the Irish, the Greeks live hearty lives – up to 80.6 years old – despite having the largest percentage of adult daily smokers of any OECD country. Maybe it’s all the olive oil, feta cheese, and beach life.
Germany - 80.65
The “land of poets and thinkers”, Germany is increasingly known as having the widest belts in Europe. Though Germany has the highest number of overweight people in the European Union, it also has the world’s oldest universal health care system, dating back to Otto von Bismarck in the 1880’s. Even as early as the thirteenth century, Germany had high-quality healthcare centers called spitals which predate modern-day hospitals.