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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A centenarian is a person who has reached the age of 100 years. Because life expectancies worldwide are below 100, the term is invariably associated with longevity. The United Nations in 2012 estimated that there were 316,600 living centenarians worldwide.[1]

As world population and life expectancy continue to increase, the number of centenarians is expected to increase substantially in the twenty-first century.[2] According to the Office of National Statistics in the United Kingdom, one-third of babies born in the country in 2013 are expected to live to 100.[3]

The United Nations estimates that currently there are 573,000 centenarians, almost quadruple the estimate of 151,000 made in 2000.[4] According to a 1998 United Nations demographic survey, Japan is expected to have 272,000 centenarians by 2050;[5] other sources suggest that the number could be closer to 1 million.[6] The incidence of centenarians in Japan was one per 3,522 people in 2008.[7]

In Japan, the number of centenarians is highly skewed towards females. Japan in fiscal year 2016 had 57,525 female centenarians, while there were 8,167 males, a ratio of 7:1. The increase of centenarians was even more skewed at 11.6:1.[8]

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/5
    11 654
    467 752
    19 331
    2 493
    9 435
  • The Super Centenarians of Okinawa
  • What is the Healthiest Country in the World? Centenarians Diet – Dr.Berg
  • The Georgia Centenarian Study Documentary (Full Version)
  • Centenarian Secrets | Dr. Weston
  • The World's Strongest Centenarian


Worldwide incidence by country

The total number of centenarians in the world is uncertain. The Population Division of the United Nations estimated that there were 23,000 in 1950, 110,000 in 1990, 150,000 in 1995, 209,000 in 2000, 324,000 in 2005,[9] 455,000 in 2009,[10] and 935,000 in 2024.[11]

These older estimates, however, did not take into account downward adjustments of national estimates made by several countries such as the United States. The UN estimated in 2012, as a result of these adjustments, that there were only 316,600 centenarians worldwide.[1] The following table gives estimated centenarian populations by country, including both the latest and the earliest known estimates, where available.

Chances of surviving to age 100 in the UK in 2013
Country Latest estimate (year) Earliest estimate (year) Centenarians per
100,000 people
Andorra 7 (2002)[12] 10.2
Argentina 7,299 (2023)[13] 234 (1869);[14] 863 (1947)[15] 15.5
Australia 8,262 (2021)[16] 50 (1901) 32.1
Austria 1,686 (2022)[17] 232 (1990),[18] 25 (1960)[18] 18.8
Barbados 114 (2016)[19][20] 39.9
Belgium 2,163 (2021)[21] 23 (1950)[22] 18.8
Brazil 23,760 (2010)[22] 12.5
Bulgaria 353 (2022)[23] 233 (2010) 5.5
Cambodia 3,143 (2019)[24] 20.2
Canada 12,822 (2021)[25] 33.5
China 54,166 (2013)[26] 4,469 (1990),[22] 17,800 (2007)[27] 4.0
Czech Republic 845 (2020)[28] 404 (2006)[29] 7.9
Denmark 1,220 (2022)[30] 32 (1941)[31] 20.8
Estonia 154 (2021)[32] 42 (1990)[18] 11.6
Finland 1,038 (2020)[33] 11 (1960)[18] 18.8
France 25,961 (2021)[34] 100 (1900)[35] 38.4[36]
Germany 23,513 (2021)[37] 232 (1885)[38] 28.2
Hungary 3,363 (2021)[32] 76 (1949), 227 (1990)[39] 34.6
Iceland 43 (2021)[32][40] 3 (1960)[18] 11.7
India 27,000 (2015)[41] 2.1
Ireland 2,179 (2021)[32] 87 (1990)[18] 8.5
Israel 3,061 (2017)[42] 35.1
Italy 19,095 (2021)[43] 99 (1872)[31] 29.0
Japan 92,139 (2023)[44] 81 (1884),[45] 105 (1930),[46] 97 (1950),[46] 155 (1960),[47] 54,397 (2013)[48] 74.1
Malaysia 2,296 (2024)[49] 6.7
Mexico 18,295 (2020)[50] 2,403 (1990) 14.5
Netherlands 2,572 (2023)[51] 18 (1830)[52] 14.4
New Zealand 1,078 (2024)[53] 18 (1960);[18] 297 (1991)[54] 20.9
Norway 1,309 (2022)[55] 44 (1951)[31] 24.1
Peru 2,707 (2013) 1,682 (2011)[56] 8.4
Poland 7,232 (2021)[32] 500 (1970)[57] 19.1
Portugal 5,025 (2021)[32] 48.8
Romania 9,912 (2022)[58] - 52
Russia 22,600 (2020)[59] 6,700 (2007) 15.5
Singapore 1,500 (2020)[60] 41 (1990)[18] 26.38
Slovenia 281 (2021)[61] 2 (1953),[62] 224 (2013)[61] 13.3[61]
Slovakia 401 (2021)[63] 7.4
South Africa 15,581 (2011)[64] 30.1
South Korea 21,912 (2020)[65] 961 42.4
Spain 19,573 (2022)[66] 4,269 (2002)[67] 41.1
Sweden 2,410 (2021)[68] 46 (1950) 23.1
Switzerland 1,726 (2021) 7 (1860)[31] 19.9
Thailand 26,137 (2021)[69] 39.5
Turkey 5,780 (2021)[32] 6.9
United Kingdom 15,120 (2020)[70] 107 (1911)[31][71] 23
United States 80,139 (2020)[72] 2,300 (1950),[73] 53,364 (2010)[74] 24.2
Uruguay 519 (2011)[75] 15.8[76]
World Estimates 934,776 (2024)[11] 23,000 (1950), 316,600 (2012)[1] 11.6


Aarne Arvonen (1897–2009), a supercentenarian from Finland, was one of the oldest men ever, living for 111 years and 150 days.

A supercentenarian, sometimes hyphenated as super-centenarian, is a person who has reached the age of 110 years. This age milestone is only achieved by about one in a thousand centenarians.

Even rarer is a person who has lived to 115. There are 69 people in recorded history who have indisputably reached 115. Only three of the people who have reached 115 are men. Maria Branyas, Tomiko Itooka, and Inah Canabarro Lucas are the only verified people currently alive who have reached the 115 years milestone.[77][78][79][80]

Jeanne Calment from France is the only age-verified person in human history to have reached the age of 120 years.

Recognition and congratulations

History, blessings and traditions

An aspect of blessing in many cultures is to offer a wish that the recipient lives to 100 years old. Among Hindus in India, where touching feet of elders and respected is a tradition, people who touch the feet of elders are often blessed with "May you live a hundred years". In Sweden, the traditional birthday song states, May he/she live for one hundred years. In Judaism, May you live to be 120 years old is a common blessing. In Poland, Sto lat, a wish to live a hundred years, is a traditional form of praise and good wishes, and the song "sto lat, sto lat" is sung on the occasion of the birthday celebrations—arguably, it is the most popular song in Poland and among Poles around the globe.

According to legends, Sages from ancient India lived and meditated for tens of thousands of years while Great Kings ruled their kingdoms for thousands of years.

Chinese emperors were hailed to live ten thousand years, while empresses were hailed to live a thousand years.

In Italy, "A hundred of these days!" (cento di questi giorni) is an augury for birthdays, to live to celebrate 100 more birthdays.[81] Some Italians say "A cent'anni!", which means "(up) To a hundred years", in that they wish that they could all live happily for a hundred years. In Greece, wishing someone Happy Birthday ends with the expression να τα εκατοστήσεις (na ta ekatostisis), which can be loosely translated as "may you make it one hundred birthdays". In Sri Lanka, it is a custom to bless as "you may live 220 instead of 120".

In many countries, people receive a gift or congratulations from federal/state institutions on their 100th birthday.

United States

Greeting card sent by former United States President Gerald R. Ford and first lady Betty Ford

As of 2019, there were an estimated 72,000 centenarians living in the U.S.; the 2020 census officially counted 80,139, and the 2010 census had 53, 364.[82] However, the U.S. Census Bureau claimed in 1999 that as many as a third of people stating their age as over 100 might be exaggerating.[82]

In the United States, centenarians may request a letter of congratulation from the United States president to mark their longevity.[83]

Today also presents a segment honoring centenarians and older, sponsored by Smuckers. The tradition was created in 1983 by weather presenter Willard Scott, and is now presented by his successor Al Roker.[84]


Japanese centenarians receive a silver cup and a certificate from the prime minister of Japan upon the Respect for the Aged Day following their 100th birthday, honouring them for their longevity and prosperity in their lives.[85][86][87]

In Madhya Pradesh, India, the award known as Shatayu Samman is given out to people who live at least 100 years to promote awareness of good health.[88]

North Korean centenarians receive a birthday congratulatory letter from the Supreme Leader of the DPRK. On 6 July 2022, Pak Hak Sil, a centenarian living in Koup-ri of Kangnam County, Pyongyang, received a birthday letter sent by Kim Jong Un.[89]

In Taiwan, people aged 100 or above receive a golden pendant necklace on Chong Yang Festival each year from the president and Ministry of Health and Welfare.[90][91][92]


German centenarians receive a letter of congratulations from the president of Germany.

In Ireland, centenarians can receive a €2,540 "Centenarians' Bounty" and a letter from the president of Ireland, even if they are resident abroad.[93] Irish people celebrating their 101st birthday may also receive a special silver minted coin with a quote by a famous Irish writer or poet.[94]

Centenarians born in Italy receive a letter of congratulations from the president of Italy.[citation needed]

In the Netherlands, the monarch and their commissioner sends a letter on the 100th birthday and on every birthday beginning with the 105th.[95]

Swedish centenarians receive a telegram from the king and queen of Sweden.[96]

British and Commonwealth realms

In Commonwealth realms including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand centenarians can receive congratulations card greetings from the monarch King Charles III on their 100th birthday. In the UK, greeting cards are also sent by the monarch on every birthday beginning with the 105th.[97][98][99]

In Commonwealth realms in which the monarch does not ordinarily reside, honorees can also receive congratulations from the governor-general. In Canada, application must be made through the GGS official website.[99] Similarly, in New Zealand, honorees must apply for greetings through the official government website.[98]

British traditions

Queen Elizabeth sent a greeting card to centenarians as a congratulations.

The traditions of British centenarians receiving greetings and congratulations was established by King Edward VII in 1908.

The famous acrobat and tightrope walker Henry Johnson received a congratulatory letter from Edward VII via his royal courtier Viscount Knollys in 1906.[100] The tradition of royal congratulations continued in 1908, when the secretary for King Edward VII sent a congratulatory letter to Reverend Thomas Lord of Horncastle, Lincolnshire, in a newspaper clipping, declaring, "I am commanded by the King to congratulate you on the attainment of your hundredth year, after a most useful life".[citation needed]

The practice was formalised from 1917, under the reign of King George V, who also sent congratulations then sent by a telegram on the attainment of a diamond wedding anniversary (or jubilee) marking 60 years of marriage.

During the reign of King George V, only 24 telegrams were sent; however, with the aging population, this increased to 273 during 1952, when the longest-reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne.[97] The Queen also sent a telegram, and later a portrait-style greeting card with the notation, "I am so pleased to know that you are celebrating your one hundredth birthday. I send my congratulations and best wishes to you on such a special occasion." Each few years the card was updated with a current updated picture of the Queen to ensure people did not receive the same card more than once. The Queen further sent her congratulations on one's 105th birthday and every year thereafter as well as on special wedding anniversaries.[101]

Centenarians in antiquity

While the number of centenarians per capita was much lower in ancient times than today, the data suggest that they were not unheard of.[102][better source needed]

Estimates of life expectancy in antiquity are far lower than modern values mostly due to the far greater incidence of deaths in infancy or childhood. Those who lived past early childhood had a reasonable chance of living to a relatively old age.[103] The assumption of what constitutes "old age", or being "elderly", at least, seems to have remained unchanged since antiquity, the line being generally drawn at either sixty or sixty-five years;[104] Psalm 90:10 in the Hebrew Bible appears to give seventy to eighty years as the natural life expectancy of a person surviving into old age, "The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty".

A survey of the lifespans of male individuals with entries in the Oxford Classical Dictionary (i.e., a sample pre-selected to include those who lived long enough to attain historical notability) found a median lifespan of 72 years, and a range of 32 to 107 years, for 128 individuals born before 100 BC (though the same study found a median lifespan of 66 years for 100 individuals born after 100 BC but no later than 602 AD); by comparison, male individuals listed in Chambers Biographical Dictionary who died between 1900 and 1949 had a median lifespan of 71.5 years, with a range between 29 and 105 years.

The author of the 1994 study concluded that it was only in the second half of the 20th century that medical advances have extended the life expectancy of those who live into adulthood.[105]

Reliable references to individuals in antiquity who lived past 100 years are quite rare, but they do exist. For instance, Cicero's wife Terentia was reported by Pliny the Elder to have lived from 98 BC to 6 AD, 104 years.[106] Regnal dates of Bronze Age monarchs are notoriously unreliable; the sixth dynasty Egyptian ruler Pepi II is sometimes listed as having lived c. 2278 – c. 2184 BC, as he is said to have reigned for 94 years,[107] but alternative readings cite a reign of just 64 years.[108] Adad-guppi, mother of the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire Nabonidus apparently lived from c. 648-544 BC (c. 104 years) according to inscriptions on funeral steles.[109]

Diogenes Laërtius (c. AD 250) gives one of the earliest references regarding the plausible centenarian longevity given by a scientist, the astronomer Hipparchus of Nicaea (c. 185 – c. 120 BC), who, according to the doxographer, said that the philosopher Democritus of Abdera (c. 470/460 – c. 370/360 BC) lived 109 years. Other ancient accounts of Democritus agree that the philosopher lived at least 90 years. The case of Democritus differs from those of, for example, Epimenides of Crete (7th and 6th centuries BC), who is said to have lived an implausible 154, 157, or 290 years, depending on the source.

Other ancient Greek philosophers thought to have lived beyond the age of 90 include Xenophanes of Colophon (c. 570/565 – c. 475/470BC), Pyrrho of Ellis (c. 360 – c. 270 BC), and Eratosthenes of Cirene (c. 285 – c. 190 BC). Also, the Greek rhetorician Isocrates of Athens (436-338 BC) lived 97/98 years and the famous Greek tragedian Sophocles (497/496-406/405 BC) lived at least 90 years.

Hosius of Córdoba, the man who convinced Constantine the Great to call the First Council of Nicaea, reportedly lived to age 102.[citation needed]

A rare record of an ordinary person who lived to be a centenarian is the tombstone of Roman British legionary veteran Julius Valens, inscribed "VIXIT ANNIS C".[110]

In the medieval period, Albert Azzo II, Margrave of Milan (d. 1097) is said by Bernold of Constance to have lived past 100 years (iam maior centenario).[111]


Research in Italy suggests that healthy centenarians have high levels of both vitamin A and vitamin E and that this seems to be important in causing their extreme longevity.[112] Other research contradicts this, however, and has found that this theory does not apply to centenarians from Sardinia, for whom other factors probably play a more important role.[113] A preliminary study carried out in Poland showed that, in comparison with young healthy female adults, centenarians living in Upper Silesia had significantly higher red blood cell glutathione reductase and catalase activities, although serum levels of vitamin E were not significantly higher.[114] Researchers in Denmark have also found that centenarians exhibit a high activity of glutathione reductase in red blood cells. In this study, the centenarians having the best cognitive and physical functional capacity tended to have the highest activity of this enzyme.[115]

Other research has found that people whose parents became centenarians have an increased number of naïve B cells. It is well known that the children of parents who have a long life are also likely to reach a healthy age, but it is not known why, although the inherited genes are probably important.[116] A variation in the gene FOXO3A is known to have a positive effect on the life expectancy of humans, and is found much more often in people living to 100 and beyond – moreover, this appears to be true worldwide.[117]

Men and women who are 100 or older tend to have extroverted personalities, according to Thomas T. Perls, the director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University.[118] Centenarians will often have many friends, strong ties to relatives and high self-esteem. In addition, some research suggests that the offspring of centenarians are more likely to age in better cardiovascular health than their peers.[119]

DNA repair

Lymphoblastoid cell lines established from blood samples of centenarians have significantly higher activity of the DNA repair protein PARP (Poly ADP ribose polymerase) than cell lines from younger (20 to 70 years old) individuals.[120] The lymphocytic cells of centenarians have characteristics typical of cells from young people, both in their capability of priming the mechanism of repair after H2O2 sublethal oxidative DNA damage and in their PARP capacity.[121] PARP activity measured in the permeabilized mononuclear leukocyte blood cells of thirteen mammalian species correlated with maximum lifespan of the species.[122] These findings suggest that PARP mediated DNA repair activity contributes to the longevity of centenarians, consistent with the DNA damage theory of aging.[123]

Japanese bio-study

Many experts attribute Japan's high life expectancy to the typical Japanese diet, which is particularly low in refined simple carbohydrates, and to hygienic practices. The number of centenarians in relation to the total population was, in September 2010, 114% higher in Shimane Prefecture than the national average. This ratio was also 92% higher in Okinawa Prefecture.[124][125][126] In Okinawa, studies have shown five factors that have contributed to the large number of centenarians in that region:[124]

  1. A diet that is heavy on grains, fish, and vegetables and light on meat, eggs, and dairy products.
  2. Low-stress lifestyles, which are proven significantly less stressful than that of the mainland inhabitants of Japan.
  3. A caring community, where older adults are not isolated and are taken better care of.
  4. High levels of activity, where locals work until an older age than the average age in other countries, and more emphasis on activities like walking and gardening to keep active.
  5. Spirituality, where a sense of purpose comes from involvement in spiritual matters and prayer eases the mind of stress and problems.[124]

Although these factors vary from those mentioned in the previous study, the culture of Okinawa has proven these factors to be important in its large population of centenarians.[124]

A historical study from Korea found that male eunuchs in the royal court had a centenarian rate of over 3%, and that eunuchs lived on average 14 to 19 years longer than uncastrated men.[127]

Epigenetic studies

By measuring the biological age of various tissues from centenarians, researchers may be able to identify tissues that are protected from aging effects. According to a study of 30 different body parts from centenarians and younger controls, the cerebellum is the youngest brain region (and probably body part) in centenarians (about 15 years younger than expected[128]) according to an epigenetic biomarker of tissue age known as epigenetic clock.[129]

These findings could explain why the cerebellum exhibits fewer neuropathological hallmarks of age related dementias compared to other brain regions. Further, the offspring of semi-supercentenarians (subjects who reached an age of 105–109 years) have a lower epigenetic age than age-matched controls (age difference=5.1 years in peripheral blood mononuclear cells) and centenarians are younger (8.6 years) than expected based on their chronological age.[130]

Media references

Centenarians are often the subject of news stories, which often focus on the fact that they are over 100 years old. Along with the typical birthday celebrations, these reports provide researchers and cultural historians with evidence as to how the rest of society views this elderly population. Some examples:

Famous centenarians in media


  • In 2015, Hidekichi Miyazaki, a Japanese masters athlete affectionately nicknamed Golden Bolt (a word-play on athlete Usain Bolt) became the world's oldest sprinter to complete the 100m aged 105 and was certified by Guinness World Records.[139][140]
  • In 2015, Mieko Nagaoka, a 100-year-old Japanese woman, became the first centenarian to complete a 1500m swim in a 25-meter pool; specifically, she completed 30 laps in the pool in 1 hour, 15 minutes, 54 seconds.[141][142]
  • On 30 April 2016, Ida Keeling, a track and field athlete, became the first woman in history to complete a 100-meter run aged 100. Her time of 1:17.33 was witnessed by a crowd of 44,469 at the 2016 Penn Relays.[143][144][145]
  • In 2017, Julia Hawkins (age 101) became the oldest woman ever in the USA Track and Field Outdoors Masters Championships, and ran the 100 meters in 40.12 seconds.[146] Previously that year she had run the 100 meters in 39.62 seconds.[146] That is a new world record for women 100 or older.[146]

See also


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Further reading

  • Koch, Tina; Kralik, Debbie; Power, Charmaine (2005). 100 Years Old: 24 Australian Centenarians Tell Their Stories. Camberwell, Vic: Viking. ISBN 0-670-02872-X.

External links

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