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[A] What country has the highest life expectancy?
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February 5, 2020
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Zack Creach
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8 Countries With the Longest Life Expectancy

There's a lot we can learn from the parts of the world where people live the longest, from habits we should adopt to things it would behoove us to stop doing. Here are the eight countries with the world's highest life expectancy as of 2017.

Andorra

View on Andorra surrounded by mountains
Credit: Sergii Nagornyi/ Shutterstock

With an average life expectancy of around 82 years, Andorra has frequently topped the list of countries with the longest lifespans. It is located in southwest Europe, nestled between Spain and France. People speculate that one of the reasons people live longer here is due to the fresh mountain air; a whopping 92 percent of the country is covered in forest.

People may also live longer because of the country's altitude and high income, as well as the many opportunities residents have to stay active. Locals (and tourists!) can ski over 186 miles of slopes, and can hike on one of the country's 65 mountains. In fact, you can hike all the way across Andorra without ever coming across a major town.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong skyline reflected in the water with a brightly colored boat
Credit: baona/ iStock

A drastic shift from the tiny, heavily forested Andorra, Hong Kong has a slightly higher average life expectancy — 83 years. Although it may seem surprising that such a crowded city could boast such a healthy population, there are actually a number of factors that lead to the longevity of Hong Kong's residents.

Despite its towering skyscrapers and busy city streets, Hong Kong actually incorporates quite a few parks for people to escape the hustle and bustle. Residents also have easy access to hospitals, eat a fairly healthy diet, and have access to hiking areas and beaches just outside the city. The layout of Hong Kong also promotes frequent walking rather than constant driving, enabling residents to naturally incorporate exercise into their lives.

Iceland

Blooming purple lupine flowers on the Stokksnes headland of Iceland with mountains in the background.
Credit: Andrew Mayovskyy/ Shutterstock

Iceland's average life expectancy of 83 is likely due to a combination of environmental factors and genetics. Iceland's harsh climate means that for hundreds of years, the residents who survived were the ones who were able to make it through unheated winters, poverty, and agricultural trouble — some people suggest that modern residents of Iceland are simply primed for survival.

Regardless of its history, the main contributor to the country's longevity is its allocation of funds; more money is put towards ensuring that residents have access to food and healthcare, thus enabling them to live longer. People living here also usually eat a diet heavy in healthy fish, and tend to exercise frequently; Iceland holds eight "World's Strongest Man" titles, and is home to two-time Crossfit Games winner Annie Thorisdóttir.

San Marino

Guaita, the First Tower, overlooking colorful San Marino on a bright day
Credit: Leonid Andronov/ iStock

If you're interested in health and fitness, you've probably heard about the Mediterranean diet. Heavy in healthy fats, seafood, and whole grains, this style of eating is thought to increase heart health and reduce rates of chronic disease. Incidentally, it is also the main diet in San Marino.

This tiny republic is landlocked by Italy, and boasts an average life expectancy of 83.3. With a length of just eight miles, San Marino is one of the smallest independent states in Europe and the second smallest republic in the world. In addition to eating a healthy diet, residents of San Marino enjoy incredibly low unemployment rates, free education, and free comprehensive healthcare.

Macau

Macau skuline
Credit: CHUNYIP WONG/ iStock

Like many of the countries on this list, Macau boasts one very important factor that contributes to the long lifespans of its residents: it is very wealthy, and provides public healthcare and welfare programs to its residents. Located in China, this territory is just 18 square miles in size and has an average life expectancy of 84.6 years. This region is an incredibly popular tourist spot, partially due to its many large casinos. It is often referred to as "the Las Vegas of the East."

In addition to its public healthcare, Macau is a location designed to be traversed by foot. This increases the activity levels of its residents. It is also located near Hac Sa (Black Sand) Beach, where people can go to get some exercise and take a break from city life.

Singapore

Aerial view of the lit-up towering architecture in downtown Singapore
Credit: primeimages/ iStock

A major contributing factor to the longevity of Singapore's residents is the fact that medical professionals here have dedicated a great deal of time and effort into preventative care and chronic disease management. Because cancer, hypertension, and heart disease are some of the top causes of death in Singapore, this focus on improving the quality of disease management has greatly increased the lifespan of people living here. Early disease detection has also contributed to the greater overall health of the population.

In addition to its quality healthcare system, levels of drinking and smoking here are relatively low.

Japan

Japan skyline with mountain in background
Credit: yongyuan/ iStock

Japan has continually made the list of countries with the highest life expectancies. People here live until the age of 85.3 on average, and there have been numerous studies done to determine just what it is that helps Japan's residents have such long lifespans.

One of the reasons is the Japanese diet, which consists largely of carbohydrates, vegetables, and fish. Research has found that this diet decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease, partially due to the lower amounts of saturated fats and processed foods.

In addition to this healthy diet, research suggests that Japan's public healthcare system and general focus on health and hygiene contributes to the long lifespans of its residents.

Monaco

Harbor in Monaco
Credit: S-F/ Shutterstock

Located on the French Riviera, this tiny city-state boasts an average life expectancy of 89.4. A high level of wealth, access to excellent doctors, and a general atmosphere of rest and relaxation all contribute to the long lifespans of people living here. Residents largely partake in the Mediterranean diet, and the city itself is set up to encourage exercise and activity — it generally has warm weather, and is surrounded by places to hike, swim, walk, and jog.

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