Special Report

This Is the Oldest Person in the World

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