Stories about a fountain of youth exist in many cultures from around the world, especially in the Mediterranean and in Asia. The stories typically revolve around a spring, that when drank from, makes you younger.
European explorers spent a lot of time searching for the fountain of youth in South America and Florida. Both are wonderful places to visit, so I understand the urge, but it turns out they were going in the wrong direction.
See, those two cultures would have done well to stay put, because some of the top places in the world for long life are in Asia and the Mediterranean. Islands also seem to be a win for youth and vitality.
The CIA, in putting together their World Fact Book, has also put in the time to figure out where people live the longest in the world. Of the top 10 countries, all of them are islands or cultures that live close to the ocean. And all of them, not surprisingly, are beautiful escapes.
Whether you want to pick up where you live today and relocate to these centers of longevity or just stop in for an epic vacation to glean a few of their lifestyle tips – I applaud you for reading on and putting in this important research.
Let’s take a closer look at the top five, and see what these destinations have to offer.
And just to kick us off (and count us down) number ten through six are…
8. Hong Kong
7. Guernsey (off the coast of Normandy)
6. Andorra (between Spain and France)
Now to the real winners.
Pay attention, and start plan your trip(s).
5. San Marino
This tiny country is the third smallest state in all of Europe and claims to be the oldest republic in the world. Oh, and it is inside of Italy. It was founded in the year 301 and has a population of 30,000 people. The state is on the eastern side of the Apennine Mountains and of course on the Mediterranean sea.
Much of the San Marino diet and lifestyle reflects Italian life. But they do have their own flair and culture. A few unique dishes to area, for instance:
Local savory dishes include fagioli con le cotiche, a Christmas bean and bacon soup; pasta e ceci, a chickpea and noodle soup with garlic and rosemary; nidi di rondine a baked pasta dish with smoked ham, beef, cheese, and a tomato sauce; and roast rabbit with fennel. – Wikipedia
And as with Italy, wine is also a very important part of the culture in San Marino.
Singapore, originally a British trading colony, has been an independant country since the 1960’s. It is next to Malaysia in Asia. Singapore is “one of the world’s most prosperous countries with strong international trading links (its port is one of the world’s busiest in terms of tonnage handled) and with per capita GDP equal to that of the leading nations of Western Europe.”
Singapore’s has over five million people that are mainly (75%) of Chinese decent, but English is widely spoken. While a beautiful country with strong tourism, it is also important to note that laws are strictly enforced in Singapore. Driving under the influence can have you sent to jail right away and you can be easily arrested for jaywalking, littering, or spitting. Caning (being hit with a cane as punishment) is an infamous form of corporal punishment in Singapore.
So yes, it is not ALL rose petals, but if you want to live forever, maybe it is worth it?
The diet and culture of Singapore is the most eclectic of all the cities on this list. The food alone is comprised of many separate traditions, including Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian and Western, Italian, Peranakan, Spanish, French, and Thai.
Japan has emerged as an economic powerhouse far beyond its geography over the second half of the 20th century. Along the way they have avoided succumbing to most of the bad western diet or health issues. Japanese people do not just live longer, they can expect to live an average of 75 healthy and disability-free years, according the World Health Organization.
This excerpt from the book Japanese Women Do Not Get Fat or Old by Naomi Moriyama sums up the Japanese diet well:
There are seven “secrets” of the Tokyo kitchen. First, preferred foods include fish, soy, rice, vegetables, and fruit. Second, portions are small. Third, breakfast is powered by miso soup. Fourth, cooking is light and gentle. Fifth, rice replaces bread. Sixth, desserts are teeny-tiny. And seventh, Japanese women don’t deprive themselves or go on diets but eat small amounts of whatever they like.
“Eat with your eyes” is one of the Japanese beliefs. And if you decide to travel to Japan for your chance at long life, there is plenty of spectacle to take in with your eyes. Tokyo is an island nation with volcanos, waterfalls, and beaches throughout.
Macau is technically apart of China, but as with HongKong, it is autonomous and mostly run by its own government. It was originally colonized by Portugal and has a mixture of the two cultures.
The small nation is on a peninsula has a very open minded culture when it comes to food, culture, and life. While most of the people who live there are Chinese, many speak English and are very accepting of outsiders.
The food is eclectic in Macau, but the traditional fair has a strong Portuguese and Mediterranean influence with some Indian and African flair, all from its Portuguese roots. There is also some Asian and Chinese influence.
Similar to Japan, much of the country is built up, with little nature and open space in between. But the culture of the country keeps them healthy and active, despite being industrialized.
The first fortress was built at present day Monaco in 1215. The country’s mild climate, beautiful scenery, and famous gambling sites have created an image of Monaco that is famous for tourists trying to escape as well as Hollywood movie scenes.
Monaco is in the French Riviera, borded by France on three sides and the Mediterranean. French, Italian, and English are all widely spoken. And, a bit of trivia for you, Monaco is one of the few European monarchies where the royalty still wield quite a bit of political control.
The diet in Monaco is very reflective of France and Italy. Wine and fish are important table staples.
But much of the Monaco long life, may actually have to do with its immense wealth. While the people in Monaco live the longest of anywhere in the world, they are also the richest in every metric you can think of. Highest per capita income, most millionaires in the world, most billionaires in the world, and lowest unemployment.
I could go on, but you get the point, it is basically the best, most incredible place in the world to live.
Or, you know, visit… as a spy.
Bond: What words do you live by?
Xenia: The trick is to quit while you are still ahead.
Bond: That’s one trick I’ve never learned.
So, as you plan where to live out the rest of your wonderfully fulfilling and happy life, for longevity sake, start to take a closer look at these pockets of health and vitality.
I’ll see you out there.
Source for all country images: Shutterstock.com