Top 10 Countries Where People Live the Longest

Life expectancy rate speaks volumes about the quality of life and healthcare of a certain country. It refers to the average age a person born in a specific country is expected to reach before death based on massive accumulated data from citizens as a whole. The latest data published by the World Health Organization is in May 2016. Here are the top 10 countries where people of both sexes are living their lives to the fullest:

9. France and Sweden – 82.4 Years Old

It is amazing how France is still composed of healthy people despite the demand of restaurants here. Most of the country’s staple dishes are also high in saturated fat. However, France remains one of the countries with the lowest cases of cardiovascular and coronary diseases. Studies show that the French’s lifestyle of frequently drinking wine has a significant effect with the country’s life expectancy rate. The safest way to drink plenty of wine is just two or three glasses every day.

Sweden, on the other hand, may have struggled in the past years because of negative economic changes affecting their healthcare systems among other things, but most people there still live longer than those living in other countries. Consistently being the country with the lowest number of smokers has a lot to do with why Swedes stay on top when it comes to getting older than most.

8. Israel – 82.5 Years Old

There are three major factors why Israeli men and women live longer than most countries: location, religion and military training. The trend with locations along a coast is having a healthier population. Added by the strict lifestyle of their religion, Israelis are meant to age gracefully. When it comes to men, joining military service contributes even more to the established life expectancy of the population. Physical training to join the military and continuous exercise in the service is always intense, leading to a few cases of medical conditions among Israeli men.

6. Italy and Iceland – 82.7 Years Old

What’s interesting about Italy is that the small difference of lifestyle between social classes there has a big impact on why gathered data resulted to the country having the sixth highest life expectancy rate in the world. One example is reliance on the Mediterranean diet which spans all Italian social classes. Italians love to cook fresh everything – fish, vegetables and fruits. So, their animal fat intake is lesser than most countries. Italian cuisine also uses plenty of olive oil which is healthy. Another factor is that people in the beautiful country of Italy don’t usually do binge drinking because they normally pair meals with wine.

Despite the economic downturn of Iceland decades ago, the country managed to catch up and maintain a wealthy government – hence stable programs for public health and high-quality healthcare. It also has a low rate of drinkers and smokers since the 1980s. When it comes to diet, Icelanders love to eat fresh coldwater fish which is one of the healthiest food. They also prefer to eat meat from free-grazing animals, obviously untouched by medicine and other artificial enhancers. All around the world, they are known as a friendly and peaceful bunch. They love to mingle with other people in public hot tubs to have fun, relax and soak in warm water, which is beneficial for the skin, muscles and overall well-being.

4. Spain and Australia – 82.8 Years Old

The biggest factors why Spanish people live longer are healthy diet and strong family ties. Like Italians, the typical Spanish diet involves Mediterranean dishes that contain a lot of olive oil, fresh fish, salads and fruits. Cases of heart disease and different types of cancer only come in small numbers. If ever a relative gets sick, Spanish families really make sure to cook healthy and fresh meals for the unfortunate one. Then, they take care of their relative until everything is okay. That’s why patients there can easily recuperate.

Meanwhile, the dominant contributor to why Australia is recognized as a country with high life expectancy rate is the population living in or near the Australian Capital Territory. Residents there undergo high-quality education resulting to high-paying jobs. The area also has state-of-the-art healthcare. The average income of people there is more than enough to spend for medical care. Interestingly, Australians in the ACT are mostly government workers. So, they are not exposed to jobs that require unhealthy amount of time and effort.

3. Singapore – 83.1 Years Old

The rich country of Singapore has a high life expectancy rate because it works hard for it. Singaporeans make sure to continue with excellent health services and programs, especially for mothers and children to prevent diseases as kids grow old. Another thing about Singapore’s healthcare is the encouragement of natural preventive measures against diseases such as exercise and herbs. When it comes to health and wellness, everything is high-quality and accessible in Singapore.

2. Switzerland – 83.4 Years Old

High-quality lifestyle, healthcare system and happiest population are the strongest points of Switzerland. The Swiss are consistently known around the world to be the happiest and most united people. When it comes to work, they don’t work long hours and file for overtime. They also prioritize lunch breaks and not working on Sundays, which is proven by a lot of closed shops.

Switzerland is heaven on earth for mothers. Working mothers get to rest at least 14 weeks after child delivery because of the country’s generous maternity leave program. Another thing, the Swiss love to walk everywhere. Streets in the country are very friendly for pedestrians.

1. Japan – 83.7 Years Old

For how many years, Japan is always known to be the country with the highest life expectancy rate compared to other developed countries. It is given that Japan has an excellent healthcare system because of how wealthy it is. New studies preferred to focus on the fact that Japanese eat the healthiest and most balanced meals. Japanese diet is mainly composed of fish, lean meat, fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates mostly coming from rice. It is low in processed ingredients and saturated fats.

The Japanese government itself pushes healthy diet to all the citizens because it really created a comprehensive diet plan for the whole country to follow back in 2005. Everything is balanced in the diet plan: dairy and soy products, eggs, fish, meat, fruits, vegetables, grains – even sweets and alcohol! The result? A country almost free from cardiovascular diseases.

Final Thoughts

Looking back at the reasons why people live longer, living a long life is really not about how developed and high-technology your country’s healthcare system is. It all comes down to discipline and positive outlook in life. Stress is also a big contributor to diseases. As you can see, many countries in the list have perfect work-life balance and united population.

Culture For Dummies

It’s culture!

Films, books, paintings, operas, museums, ancestral homes, antiques – things that people mundanely associate to culture. India’s annual Festival of Colors (Holi), for instance, reminds us of the vividness of Eastern cultural landscape. The same thing goes when we experience the enthralling lights of Broadway. There’s a sense of intimate allure, yet hauntingly distant. We imagine culture as an exotic, romantic, and fashionable existence out there, far away. But it’s not.

Culture is one of the most ambiguous terms in the English language. In 2014, Merriam-Webster announced ‘culture’ as the Word of Year. They explained that this word saw the highest spike in terms of lookups on their site. “Culture is a word that we seem to be relying on more and more. It allows us to identify and isolate an idea, issue, or group with seriousness,” said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor-at-large. We live in a world where the use and abuse culture is widespread. With this in mind, we need to ask, “What is culture?” In his classic work titled Primitive Culture: Researches into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Art, and Custom, anthropologist Edward Tylor defined this concept as the “complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, arts, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of a society.” This definition is considered as the most popular (and quoted) anthropological conceptualization of this word. The word was originally derived from the archaic Latin colere which means to ‘to tend, to inhabit, to till, to worship.’

Culture is a central but contested concept in anthropology and sociology. It covers a complex range of social realities and phenomena transmitted by means of social learning. It gives people an array of cognitive tools for them to make sense of their world. And unlike the general assumption that it is ‘far away’, culture is actually unfolding right in front of our eyes. It is not always romantic and exotic; but it is practical, repetitive, and a guide to our every day humanity. It is not solely about music, or fashion, or taste, but an intricate combination of all these components weaved together to create multitudes of daily habits and practices. To better understand this point, Conrad Kottak (author of Mirror for Humanity: A Concise Introduction to Cultural Anthropology) posits that we can examine culture using a number attributes.

Attributes of Culture

1. It is learned. The way children absorb culture is dependent on humans’ biological capacity to learn complex thought. Most of the time, culture is learned unconsciously. Cultural knowledge is transmitted through observation and performance. It is usually passed from one generation to another, a rigid social process called enculturation.

Like Homo sapiens, other animals have the capacity to learn. For example, we can teach our dogs to do a trick or two. Wolves can learn hunting strategies by watching and tagging with other pack members. There are even group of chimpanzees capable of using simple tools to hunt their prey. These are social animals that learn from other members of the group or their environment. And the capacity to learn is important for them to survive. But cultural learning is radically different since it requires the ability of decoding/encoding symbols (signs that have no necessary connection to the things they signify). Humans can learn things despite the absence of actual experience. Students can learn the life of Adolf Hitler even though some were just born twenty years ago! This is possible because we have universe of symbols embedded in our culture. And we retrieve this information whenever necessary. It points us to the next attribute – that culture is fundamentally symbolic.

2. It is symbolic. This implies that social meanings are encoded into symbols such as words, signs, actions, events, objects, etcetera. Symbols are usually linguistic. But there are tons of nonverbal symbols around us. We think of countries when we see flags. Diamond is a symbol of wealth. A double arch may signify a particular fast food chain for many of us. Or we picture a clothing brand when looking at a bold check logo. We can efficiently transfer knowledge to a wider public because of our ability to encode and understand symbols.

(Centuries from now, future archaeologists may study the symbolic value of Star Wars franchise by analyzing artifacts like DVDs and merchandise. Who knows?!)

3. It is shared. An individual cannot simply claim that he/she have his/her own culture. Culture frames individuals as members of groups, sharing, producing, and reproducing practices and meanings together. Ever heard of the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”? It reminds us that behaviors and practices are simply parts of a larger whole – a communitas. Shared ideals, beliefs, values, and memories glue people of the same group. And enculturation makes people closer by providing similar experiences and worldviews.

4. It is all-encompassing. This means that all people are “cultured!” There’s a time in history when the term “culture” can only be associated to individuals with education, sophistication, high socio-economic pedigree, and those who can appreciate arts and letters. That’s just elitism talking! Culture encompasses people and the triviality of life. It includes pop culture, hip hop, and heavy metal music! It is more than the expected refinement – of partaking wine and cheese. Culture is about the grueling monotonous routines that we see unworthy of serious analysis.

5. It can be adaptive (or maladaptive). For 150,000 years, humans survived because we have biological and cultural ways of coping with environmental pressures. Moreover, social and cultural means of adaptation has only increased during the course of human evolution. It is seamlessly embodied by the survival of populations in extreme environmental conditions such as the freezing domains of Siberia and the arid ecology of Kalahari Desert.

The Viliui Sakha of Northeast Siberia is a good example on the resiliency of local communities. They are pastoralists and horticulturalists, well-accustomed to the cold climatic condition of the area. Come winter, the temperature drops to -50 to -60 degrees (they call this hard climate). During its peak, flying birds would usually freeze and die. And whey they spit, it will freeze before hitting the ground. Even though the place is almost freezing all throughout the year, they can still store enough food stuff because they understand what resources they should acquire, use, and maximize during a particular period. In addition, their local knowledge on sowing hides for clothing protects them from the desolate icy winds of Siberia. Winter is a territory of comfort for the Sakha. In this case, culture is a central tool kit to their survival.

Final Thoughts…

I think it is high time for people to recognize the nuances of culture as a conceptual tool. It may be complex but never impossible. Exploring the diversity of culture is a journey in understanding perspectives and voices. In a rapidly globalizing world, culture will eventually serve as bridge in understanding local narratives.