Special Report

This Is the Oldest Person in the World

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According to the World Economic Forum, an extraordinary 573,000 people worldwide will be age 100 or older this year. About 97,000 of them live in the United States, the most of any country. The highest number of centenarians compared to the national population is in Japan, at 6 per 10,000 people. Uruguay, Hong Kong, and Puerto Rico are also home to some of the highest concentrations of centenarians, at between 0.06% and 0.045% of their populations.

The Gerontology Research Group keeps the GRG World Supercentenarian Rankings List, an analysis of those who have lived to be over 113. All 17 people on the list are females. The oldest person in the world, according to the GRG, is Kane Tanaka, who was born in Japan on Jan. 2, 1903, which makes her 118 years and 260 days old as of Sept. 16.

Those who applied for her to be on the list filed the application on Sept. 11, 2013. The application was accepted on March 18, 2014.

The average age of those on the list is 115 years, 41 days. Four of the people on the list are Japanese, six are American, two are French, and two are Brazilian. There is a system to validate ages, which appears to be very strict. (See how many people are still alive from the year you were born.)

According to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, Tanaka was born in Wajiro, on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. She has not had a particularly healthy life. She has had paratyphoid fever, pancreatic cancer, and colorectal cancer. 

The oldest living American on the list is Thelma Sutcliffe, who was born on Oct. 1, 1906. That makes her 114 years, 353 days old. The Omaha World-Herald recently wrote, “Omahan Thelma Sutcliffe doesn’t give a hoot about being America’s oldest living person, but she bristles at the restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to her friend, the paper writes, Sutcliffe is looking forward to eating together in the dining room again — and while she’s acknowledging the need to live by the rules, she doesn’t like it. See the oldest county in every state

One question scientists often ask is whether the absolute maximum lifespan of humans can increase — can humans continue to live longer and longer? Despite the fact that more people live to be over 100, the answer is still unknown.

Click here to see the oldest person in the world

Source: Bettmann / Bettmann via Getty Images

17. Nahi Yonamine
> Age: 113 years old
> Date of birth: March 9, 1908
> Birthplace: Japan
> Significant event in 1908: The first-ever factory-produced Model T Ford hit the market.

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Source: By Unknown (IOC Olympic Museum) - [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42389436 / Wikimedia Commons

16. Irene Dunham
> Age: 113 years old
> Date of birth: Dec. 16, 1907
> Birthplace: Michigan, USA
> Significant event in 1907: Johnny Hayes won the first Yonkers Marathon before going on to win the marathon at the 1908 Olympic Games.

Source: Fotosearch / Archive Photos via Getty Images

15. Mila Mangold
> Age: 113 years old
> Date of birth: Nov. 14, 1907
> Birthplace: Nebraska, USA
> Significant event in 1907: President Theodore Roosevelt signed a proclamation that made Oklahoma the 46th state.

Source: General Photographic Agency / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

14. Bessie Hendricks
> Age: 113 years old
> Date of birth: Nov. 7, 1907
> Birthplace: Iowa, USA
> Significant event in 1907: The RMS Mauretania, the world’s largest ship at the time, embarked on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York.

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Source: Public Domain

13. Maude Harris
> Age: 114 years old
> Date of birth: Aug. 15, 1907
> Birthplace: Minnesota, USA
> Significant event in 1907: The worst mining disaster in American history occurred in Monongah, West Virginia.

Source: Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

12. Cecile Klein
> Age: 114 years old
> Date of birth: June 15, 1907
> Birthplace: Quebec, Canada
> Significant event in 1907: Rules of land warfare ratified at second International Peace Conference at The Hague.

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Source: Kurt Hutton / Stringer / Getty Images

11. Yoshi Baba
> Age: 114 years old
> Date of birth: June 3, 1907
> Birthplace: Japan
> Significant event in 1907: Maria Montessori opened her first Montessori school in Rome, Italy.

Source: Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

10. Fusa Tatsumi
> Age: 114 years old
> Date of birth: April 25, 1907
> Birthplace: Japan
> Significant event in 1907: April 15, just a few days before Tatsumi’s birthday, was the busiest day on Ellis Island. In fact, 1907 was the busiest year on the island, with about 1.2 immigrants processed.

Source: Topical Press Agency / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

9. Casilda Benegas Gallego
> Age: 114 years old
> Date of birth: April 8, 1907
> Birthplace: Paraguay
> Significant event in 1907: The Golders Green subway station opened in northern London.

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Source: Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

8. Maria Branyas Morera
> Age: 114 years old
> Date of birth: March 4, 1907
> Birthplace: California, USA
> Significant event in 1907: The first cabs with taxi meters started operating in London.

Source: Arnold Genthe / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

7. Yoshi Otsunari
> Age: 114 years old
> Date of birth: Dec. 17, 1906
> Birthplace: Japan
> Significant event in 1906: A massive earthquake shook San Francisco on April 18, 1906. The earthquake and subsequent fires killed about 3,000 people and destroyed more than 500 city blocks. 

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Source: Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

6. Valentine Ligny
> Age: 114 years old
> Date of birth: Oct. 22, 1906
> Birthplace: France
> Significant event in 1906: Mahatma Gandhi organized his first act of mass civil disobedience.

Source: Getty Images / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

5. Thelma Sutcliffe
> Age: 115 years old
> Date of birth: Oct. 1, 1906
> Birthplace: Nebraska, USA
> Significant event in 1906: The 1906 Olympic Games were the first Games to have an opening ceremony where athletes marched into a stadium as teams behind their national flag.

Source: Public Domain

4. Tekla Juniewicz
> Age: 115 years old
> Date of birth: June 10, 1906
> Birthplace: Austria-Hungary (now Ukraine)
> Significant event in 1906: The first official motor-racing Grand Prix was held — at Le Mans.

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Source: Topical Press Agency / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

3. Antonia da Santa Cruz
> Age: 116 years old
> Date of birth: June 13, 1905
> Birthplace: Brazil
> Significant event in 1905: Albert Einstein introduced his theory of special relativity.

Source: Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

2. Lucile Randon
> Age: 117 years old
> Date of birth: Feb. 11, 1904
> Birthplace: France
> Significant event in 1904: Russian warships were stationed in Port Arthur, China, after an attack by Japanese forces.

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Source: Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

1. Kane Tanaka
> Age: 118 years old
> Date of birth: Jan. 2, 1903
> Birthplace: Japan
> Significant event in 1903: Tracks were being laid for the Great Siberian Railroad.

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