New data released by Statistics Iceland suggests that the life expectancy of Icelandic men may be the longest in the world.
A spokesperson for Statistics Iceland, Olof Gardarsdottir, said to the AFP, “This is a world record. They live even longer than Japanese men.”
The average life expectancy of a man in Iceland is 79.4 years, compared to 78.6 years for men in Japan.
“We don’t have an explanation. It’s really difficult to give a reason why,” she said.
Icelandic women are also fairly well-off compared to other countries. Women in Iceland have a life expectance of 82.9 years and Japanese women, according to statistics from the United Nations, live almost 86 years on average.
Together, men and women in Iceland rank higher than France in terms of life expectancy, living an average of just over 81 years in 2007. However, the average person in Japan lives 82 years.
Other countries with high life expectancies include Sweden and Finland. “Historically these countries had an ethic of having more of a nationalised health care system,” says Kate Schecter, a programme officer for the American International Health Alliance. “There’s this mentality that health care should be a given right for citizens.”
Whilst once relying heavily on seafood exports and the fishing industry, Iceland has undergone an economic revolution in recent years. Developments in the financial sector have lead to the Nordic nation becoming one of the world’s richest countries, despite having a population of just over 300,000 people.