We live in a diverse world with a variety of cultures, locations, and environments. As the customs, infrastructures, and diets change with all of these factors, so does the health of the people in each major region and city. Health can have a somewhat subjective definition due to many different components of health, but for the sake of comparison, these are the cities with some of the longest life expectancies.
Havana, Cuba (79 years old)
Clocking in at an average expected age of 79 years old, Cuba may come as a surprise for healthiest cities. Despite the abundance of smoking and lack of modernization, Cuban culture emphasizes proactive health rather than reactive treatments. In this sense, every child is vaccinated at birth and routine checkups are practically mandated. This focus on stopping problems before they start has led to Cubans on average living long and healthy lives.
Additionally, the healthcare system in Cuba is completely free and aggressive with maintaining a high quality of care. Anecdotes from Cubans describe medical professionals coming to take you to appointments if you forget or skip the time. One mother described how when her child was born with a defect, the doctors immediately ordered a whole range of tests. This scenario in particular helps explain how Cuba has the second-lowest child mortality rate in the Americas.
Cuba also boasts the third-highest doctor-patient ratio in the world and so is able to provide some of the fastest care for its citizens. While it may seem simple to want to implement this system in the United States, it is critical to note that doctors in Cuba are paid about $50 per month and are restricted in being able to leave the country. Doctors note the salary lets them survive, but little else.
Singapore (84 years old)
Singapore has a truly astounding healthcare system that serves as a model for the entire world. Firstly, the country believes including everyone in the healthcare system is critical and subsidizes at least half of costs for all citizens. Even with this subsidization model, Singapore only spends about 3% of its GDP on healthcare, whereas the United States spends over 16% of its GDP.
Healthcare in Singapore is distinctly known for its consumer-driven model, where patients can choose the standard of care they want to pay for and varying levels of care have varying levels of subsidization as well. However, this system works due to a range of government interventions to create a highly sophisticated and efficient healthcare industry.
Additionally, Singaporean society is regulated in order to promote cleanliness and wellbeing. For instance, smoking and spitting are illegal and in turn the streets and air quality are pristine in comparison to much of the rest of the world. There is also a well-developed public transit network that means there are fewer emissions in the air and people tend to be sitting down less and walking more.
Tokyo, Japan (84 years old)
Argued to have the world’s best public transit and some of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, the Tokyo metropolis is both one the largest cities and healthiest cities in the world. Much of what makes Tokyo such a healthy system stems from the Japanese culture and their prioritization of environmentally-friendly infrastructure.
The Japanese diet is high in fresh fish and vegetables, while low in meats and saturated fats. It is also much more important in Japanese culture to maintain active lifestyles, even into old age, and to spend time in the outdoors. Finally, the Japanese culture emphasizes identifying and treating issues such as high-blood pressure and stress, which means citizens are living healthier lifestyles in all respects. Murder is also much less common in Tokyo, with only 7.7 homicides per million people occurring each year, which is drastically less than other metropolitan areas around the world.
While the Japanese healthcare system is comparable to those around the world, Tokyo stands as a prime example of just how much of a toll bad lifestyles can have on people. A healthy and non-indulgent diet, consistent exercise, general wellness, and better air quality can literally add years to your life, as well as maximize wellbeing throughout your life.
Monaco (90 years old)
While Monaco is a bit of an unusual city, as one of the smallest cities and countries on the globe and also one of the wealthiest cities per capita, they hold the longest life expectancy of any place on Earth. The best doctors in the world flock to this city in search of the enormous resources provided to doctors and healthcare professionals. This means Monaco’s state-funded healthcare system provides all of its citizens with world-class healthcare.
Monaco’s society tends to be much more stress-free, partly due to the laid-back Mediterranean environment and partly due to the conspicuous wealth that permeates the city. This wealth also has been used to bring a fleet of electric vehicles and top notch public transportation, reducing the emissions of the city and ensuring high air quality.
Finally, Monaco’s diet offers a combination of French and Italian cuisines and is high in Omega-3’s. The location near the Mediterranean Sea means there is an abundance of fresh fish, bumper crop of vegetables, and plenty of olive oil to go around. All of these food groups have been linked to general wellness and likely contribute to the long-life expectancy of the small nation.
Looking around the globe at the longest-living cities, a trend of general healthy lifestyles begins to develop. Quality state-supported healthcare, focus on emission reduction, promoting activity, and healthy diets with fish and vegetables are common among all of the healthiest countries. As you look towards where to live or just how to live a healthier life, explore the world’s cultures and try to learn from those who do it best.