It’s no secret that some countries have longer life expectancies than others. What are the reasons for the differences? Why do some people live longer than others? Let’s talk a look below.
Top 10 Countries with the Longest Life Spans In 2024
Without further ado, here are the countries with the longest life expectancies.
10. Iceland – 83.5 Years
Iceland is tenth on our list with a life expectancy of 83.5 years (females have a slightly longer life expectancy at 84.9 years). They also have one of the lowest mortality rates in Europe at 6.5 per 1,000 inhabitants, which is significantly lower than the EU average of 10.2. Infant mortality is low as well at 2.7 per 1,000 live births, which means that more children are able to grow into healthy adults. In fact, they have the lowest neonatal death rate in the entire world.
They also have a high proportion of medical practitioners, including doctors and nurses (3.8 and 15.5 per 1,000 respectively), which reflects the efficiency of their healthcare system.
Icelanders also eat more fish and less meat compared to others, the former of which contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids that benefit the heart. That’s not all, the country also boasts clean water and air, both of which are major determinants of health.
What’s more, is that compared to other European countries, Icelanders tend to engage in higher physical activity. According to one survey, approximately 60 percent of inhabitants participate in some form of exercises such as swimming, skiing, and hiking, for at least 150 minutes a week.
9. Channel Islands – 83.6 Years
The Channel Islands consist of five islands in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They currently have a life expectancy of 83.6 years, which is the ninth highest in the world (females have a slightly higher life expectancy at 85.3 years).
While the islands don’t have as many health practitioners as other countries (1.5 per 1,000 people), they do have a low mortality rate of 7.967. Infant mortality is low as well at 5.611. In fact, it has been decreasing by approximately 1.7 percent every year.
Those who live on the islands also eat a diet rich in locally-caught seafood, such as scallops, crabs, fish, and oysters, all of which are rich in nutrients such as calcium phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and magnesium.
8. Australia – 83.94 Years
Australia has an average life expectancy of 83.94 years, which puts it in eighth place. And like many other countries, females have a slightly higher life expectancy at birth at 85.8 years (as opposed to 82.1 years for males).
Not only does the country have a well-managed healthcare system- one that ranks fourth highest in the world- but it also boasts high vaccination rates. Advanced medical treatments are also available at affordable prices, which significantly lowers mortality rates- both for adults and children. They also have one of the highest medical practitioner rates in the world at 3.9 per 1,000 people.
Compared to other nations, Australia also has clean air with minimal pollutants. That’s not all, 92 percent of Australians are also satisfied with the quality of the water and it’s actually higher than the OECD average of 83 percent.
7. Spain – 84.0 Years
Spain has an average life expectancy of 84 years for both sexes, which puts it at number seven on our list. Not only is infant mortality low at 2.0 per 1,000 live births, but the number of deaths under 5 is also low at 2.4 per 1,000.
Their national healthcare system is also free and accessible. In fact, many of their medical centers and hospitals are ranked among the top in the world. They also have a high number of physicians at 4.73 per 1,000 people, which is a slight increase from 4.33 per 1,000 people in 2019.
The country also boasts a high level of sunshine, which combined with its pleasant climate, contributes to the longevity of its inhabitants. Many Spaniards also engage in regular physical activity and follow a Mediterranean diet- which focuses on veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, fish, and olive oil- the latter of which has been shown to prevent cardiovascular disease.
6. Italy – 84.0 Years
Italy is number six on our list with an average life expectancy of 84.0 years. Infant Mortality is 2.2 per 1,000 live births with deaths under the age of 5 at 2.6 per 1,000. The number of centenarians (those above the age of 100), has also tripled over the past 15 years.
Like many European countries, Italy has a national healthcare system that’s free or low-cost to all residents. Not only does it include hospital treatments, but it also provides access to general practitioners, lab services, subsidized medicine, as well as specialist care.
Eating habits also play a major role in terms of their longevity, with many residents eating fresh and whole foods, regardless of income and social status. Many Italians also take the time to connect with friends and family and walk more and drive less compared to other nations.
Obesity rates are also low as their diet is rich in lean meat, fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, and legumes.
5. Singapore – 84.1 Years
Singapore has an average life expectancy of 84.1 years for both sexes (82.1 years for males, and 86.2 years for females). Infant mortality is low at 1.4 per 1,000 live deaths, as are deaths under 5 at 1.8 per 1,000 live births.
Not only does Singapore have a free and accessible healthcare system, but they’ve also seen a number of medical advances- ones that improve early disease detection and treatment, including those for cancer; this isn’t surprising as they spend a significant percentage of the GDP on health and medical sciences. They also have a relatively high number of registered physicians at 2.4 per 1,000 people.
The Singapore people also have access to sanitation and better nutrition, both of which help prevent infectious diseases. The government has also been promoting frequent health checks to help raise awareness of medicine. This may be the reason why they have one of the lowest mortality rates for chronic respiratory and cardiovascular disease.
4. Switzerland – 84.3 Years
Switzerland ranks fourth with an average life expectancy of 84.3 years. While its death rate has fluctuated in recent years, it has gone down to 8.210 in 2023. Infant mortality is also low at 3.0 deaths per 1,000 live births.
While healthcare in Switzerland is universal, there are no free-stated provided services; individuals must pay for their own private insurance. Despite that, they have one of the best healthcare systems in the world. For one thing, several Swiss research institutes have contributed to new treatments and medical advancements.
They also have a high number of doctors at 4.45 per 1,000 people, which is significantly higher than the global average of 3.88 physicians per 1,000 people.
The Swiss diet, which mainly consists of fruits, chocolate, vegetables, yogurt, beans, cheese, and bread, is also considered to be one of the healthiest in the world. The population as a whole, is also fairly active, with many people taking on average more than 9,600 steps a day.
3. Macao – 84.7 Years
Macao, which is located on the southern coast of China, has an average life expectancy of 84.7 years (females have a slightly higher life expectancy of 88.1 years). They have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world at 4.3 per 1,000 people, and also have a low infant mortality rate of 2.3 per 1,000 live births.
Like many other countries, Macau has a free healthcare system, one that provides treatment and services at both clinics and hospitals. They also provide free vaccinations for residents under the age of 18 as well as free pregnancy checkups. Due to the size of the country, however, it’s not uncommon for individuals to be transferred to hospitals in Hong Kong, depending on their condition.
Those who live in Macao also receive free subsidies from the government, which help with the quality of life. The country also has clean air, which significantly lowers the rate of respiratory diseases such as asthma, and lung cancer.
2. Japan – 85.0 Years
Japan ranks second with an average life expectancy of 85.0 years (81.25 years for men and 87.32 for women) and has been at the top of the charts for decades.
According to one study, diet is one of the major factors behind the high numbers. Not only do the Japanese eat a high amount of fish, which is rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but their diet also consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, and high-grain-based foods, all of which are low in saturated fats. The intake of red meat is also low, compared to other countries, which may help protect against heart disease and some types of cancers.
Japan also has a universal healthcare system that provides free treatment and services to all citizens. Unlike other countries, they also provide free healthcare to non-citizens staying in the country for over a year.
Obesity rates are also low at approximately 3.7 percent for women and 4.8 percent for men. In fact, many senior citizens continue to exercise regularly despite their old age.
1. Hong Kong – 85.3 Years
Hong Kong narrowly beats Japan with an average life expectancy of 85.3 years, which puts it in first place. They also have an infant mortality rate of 1.2 per 1,000 life births, which is among the lowest in the world.
The country also has a subsidized public healthcare system, which provides residents with affordable or nearly free hospital treatments and services.
Similar to the Japanese, they also follow a healthy diet, one that is very similar to the Mediterranean diet in that it mainly consists of fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, meats, and rice. Traditional cooking methods, such as steaming, are also healthier compared to those used in the west.
The country is also known for its “enabling environments”, which promote a better quality of life. Not only are streets safe at night, but there’s also easy access to public transportation. Many residents are also physically fit, which helps protect against chronic diseases.
Compared to other developed countries, they also have low levels of smoking. In fact, the rates have declined sharply in recent decades (10 percent of residents smoke daily as of 2017).