The Top 100 Verified Oldest People and What We Can Learn From Them

Find out the unique details and their advice on living an unusually long life!

Written by Carly Hallman

Who are the oldest people ever to have lived, and what are their secrets to longevity? If you’re looking to live a long and healthy life, it may be good to examine the characteristics of centenarians to find the common threads. What are some centenarian secrets? We’ve taken a closer look at the top 100 verified oldest people in the world and some key aspects of their lives. We’ve also taken some tips from the top ten oldest people ever. Here’s what the oldest people on Earth have to tell us!

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A Closer Look at the Top 100 Verified Oldest People Transcript

Statistics on the World’s 100 Oldest Centenarians

Sex

Gender Number of Centenarians
Male 6
Female 94

Place of Residence

Country/Territory Number of Centenarians
Australia 1
Brazil 1
Canada 3
Ecuador 1
France 5
French Guiana 1
Saint Barthélemy 1
Italy 5
Jamaica 1
Japan 25
Netherlands 1
Portugal 2
Puerto Rico 2
Spain 2
United Kingdom 5
United States 44

Birth Month

Month Number of Centenarians
January 4
February 6
March 12
April 9
May 11
June 4
July 9
August 15
September 11
October 8
November 8
December 3

Birth Decade

Decade Number of Centenarians
1870-79 12
1880-89 28
1890-99 38
1900-1909 22

Still Living

Status Number of Centenarians
Living 7
Deceased 93

The Top Ten Oldest People

Name Age, Status, Nationality Facts About Them Their “Secret”
Jeanne Calment 122, Deceased (1997), France
  • She had the longest confirmed human lifespan.
  • She met Vincent Van Gogh and lived through the Russian Revolution, the advent of the motorcar, film, and the telephone, and both world wars.
  • She smoked for 96 years and loved chocolate and red wine.
She was quoted as saying “If you can’t do anything about it, don’t worry about it.”
Sarah Knauss 119, Deceased (1999), United States
  • This insurance agency manager and homemaker died just 33 hours shy of the year 2000.
  • She was one of seven living generations of her family.
  • When she was first told that she was the oldest living person alive, she responded with a smile and said, "So what?"
She said not letting things upset her was the secret to her longevity.
Lucy Hannah (nee Terrell) 117, Deceased (1993), United States
  • The oldest African-American had escaped racial tensions in the South to live in Detroit.
  • Far less is known about her than many other super-centenarians.
Her status was recognized 10 years after her death, which is why not many interviews were found.
Marie-Lousie Fébronie Meilleur 117, Deceased (1998), Canada
  • Out of her 12 children, only four survived her. She had 85 grandchildren, 80 great-grandchildren, 57 great-great-grandchildren, and four great-great-great-grandchildren.
  • She smoked well into her 90s.
She’s quoted by her daughter as saying, “Hard work could never kill a person.”
Nabi Tajima 117, Living, Japan She has a huge family of more than 140 descendants. She has claimed that her secret to longevity is to “eat delicious things.”
Violet Brown 117, Deceased (2017), Jamaica
  • She was a devoted member of her church.
  • She was a sugar plantation worker, maid, and entrepreneur and the last living subject of Queen Victoria.
  • She owned a bread shop.
  • She ate "plenty of fruit" and sometimes cow’s foot.
“Hard work,” she said in an interview. “I was a cane farmer. I would do every work I could manage to help myself.”
Emma Morano 117, Deceased (2017), Italy
  • She ate two raw eggs and one cooked egg every day since she was diagnosed with anemia at 20.
  • She also avoided meat and loved cookies.
She said “being single” was the top reason she was still alive — that and getting to bed early.
Misao Okawa 117, Deceased (2015), Japan
  • She outlived her husband by 84 years. (He died in 1931.)
  • On her 117th birthday, she said her life seemed short.
She claimed sushi and sleep were the top reasons she lived so long.
María Capovilla 116, Deceased (2006), Ecuador
  • She was a member of upper-class society.
  • She nearly died and was given last rites at age 100, but she lived another 16 years after.
  • She was famous for fanning herself with a fine fan, and she loved reading the newspaper.
Her daughter said, “She always had a very tranquil character,” and “she does not get upset by anything.”
Susannah Mushatt Jones 116, Deceased (2016), United States
  • She lived in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance and for most of her life.
  • Her parents were sharecroppers, and her grandparents were slaves.
  • She was a teacher and did not have children.
  • She refused to get a colonoscopy, a mammogram, or a recommended pacemaker.
  • She was famous for eating eggs, bacon, and grits every morning.
“I have no secret. I just live with my family. That’s the only thing I can say — my family makes me happy.”

Sources:

A centenarian is a person who has lived a hundred years or more. Supercentenarians are those who survive past their 110th birthday — yes, like Bilbo Baggins, if he was a real person!

One out of every thousand centenarians lived to be a supercentenarian. The list of oldest people includes 663 validated cases of supercentenarians, living and dead, which may seem like a lot, but considering how many billions of people have existed, it’s not very many. The list of the oldest people in the world is short, and the list of verified world’s oldest people is even shorter. This top 100 list of the oldest people includes supercentenarians between the ages of 114 and 122, living and dead.

Who is the oldest person in the world who ever lived?

The verified oldest person ever was Jeanne Louise Calment, a French woman who lived in Arles to be a ripe age of 122 and gained fame during a celebration of the centennial of Vincent van Gogh’s visit to the town. She met van Gogh (who she later described as ugly and drunk), had German soldiers sleeping in her rooms in World War II, enjoyed killing wild boars in her spare time and survived her husband by 55 years. She was born in 1875 and died in 1997, having survived major technological changes in our world, from the advent of the telephone to the television and the Internet age. She was the oldest person to ever live in recorded history. Outside of a handful of supposedly possible and unconfirmed longevity myths (she once claimed to “compete with Methuselah”), she was the oldest human ever. So what did the longest-living person do to stay healthy? Eat chocolates, smoke cigarettes, and enjoy champagne!

How old is the oldest person alive right now?

Calment was the oldest person ever to live, but the oldest person alive currently lives on the other side of the globe: Nabi Tajima. She is 117 years old and the oldest person on Earth. A Japanese woman who doesn’t often give interviews, she recently surpassed Violet Brown of Jamaica, who lived through some very tough physical labor and died last year. Among the other oldest living people in the world are Chiyo Miyako of Japan, Giuseppina Projetto of Italy, and Kane Tanaka of Japan. The oldest people alive right now in the US are Delphine Gibson of Pennsylvania (114 years old) and Lessie Brown of Ohio (113 years old). But there are hundreds of living centenarians around the world, and many of them are still unverified.

What do centenarians have in common?

What can we learn from our elders? Advice from centenarians tends to be pretty simple, such as not worrying so much about the small stuff, sleeping soundly, enjoying hard work, having a family that makes you happy around you, or enjoying food. We can learn more by looking closer at their lives to find common characteristics in the list of centenarians. Japan and America, which have relatively good health care systems and less physical labor in the workforce, are the home countries of the most supercentenarians. The world’s oldest people tend to be female to a great extent, for many reasons. The most common birth month is August. Beyond these facts, what are the secrets from the statistics we can glean on their lifestyles? Some of these elders were famous for smoking most of their lives, eating bacon and grits, and enjoying foods supposedly horrible for you! Is it all genetics? Not exclusively, as avoiding obesity and keeping your brain sharp can certainly help. Perhaps someday we’ll discover the secrets to longevity and we’ll all live as long as Calment!


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