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Extend Your Stay: Countries with the Longest Life Expectancy -- in Pictures
Whatever the great wisdom traditions have to say about that undiscovered country beyond the grave, there's no denying that we flesh-and-blood creatures can actually get rather attached to this mortal coil. Are you looking for a way to extend your stay among the living? You might try taking up residence in one of these 30 places, which in 2012 topped the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's chart of the countries with the highest life expectancy at birth. Starting the list at #30, the
-- represented above by a view from Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales -- offers residents an impressive average of 80.17 years. Follow our visual countdown of the world's top 30 linger-lands by clicking ahead!
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29th Place: Jordan
- While a substantial part of the country is covered by arid desert, much of Jordan is also considered part of the "Fertile Crescent" -- the curved stripe of lush, forested and agriculture-friendly land that runs from the Nile River Valley to the northern shores of the Persian Gulf. Jordan's life expectancy at birth is estimated at 80.18 years. Next on the list is a land that proves maybe sausages and beer aren't as unhealthy as we've been led to believe …
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28th Place: Germany
- This trail sprouts away from the edge of Garmisch-Partenkirchen -- a town nestled in the mountainous landscape of Bavaria, Southern Germany. At birth, this country's life expectancy is 80.19 years. Such a robust number might not be due simply to good exercise on the bike trails: Germany claims to have the oldest government-based system of universal health care in the world.
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27th Place: Norway
- It must take determination -- not to mention a good combo of insulated undergarments -- to go out jogging during the icy winters in Tromso, Norway, a settlement that lies within the icy clutch of the Arctic Circle. If you reside in the northernmost nation in Europe, you can expect to live to an average age of 80.32. Next is a substantial island nation where the grass is green and the poets are witty.
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26th Place: Ireland
- The Emerald Isle may be greener than its golf courses. In the background is County Mayo's Ashford Castle -- once a seat of royalty, now a luxury hotel. In Ireland, life expectancy at birth climbs to 80.32 years. Next, we'll take a look at another verdant island nation, but this time in the Southern Hemisphere.
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25th Place: New Zealand
- Looking for an exciting way to increase your activity levels? How about coasting on the foamy wall of a wave here at the Three Sisters Rocks, North Island, New Zealand? New Zealand makes the octogenarian roll-call with an average life expectancy of 80.71 years. Next up: do you know the name of the long-lived, self-governing island between Great Britain and Ireland?
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24th Place: Isle of Man
- This eye-popping vista shows much of the geographic character of the Isle of Man. Among its craggy cliffs and green valleys, this island has a total of nine golf courses on just 221 square miles (572 square kilometers) of land. For those of you without mathematical inclinations, that's a lot of golf. Residents of the Isle of Man are statistically expected to live to an average age of 80.76 years old.
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23rd Place: Cayman Islands
- As another ocean-borne land with connections to the former British Empire, the Cayman Islands offer longevity in droves. The average Cayman Islander's lifespan is 80.80 years at birth -- now that's a long walk on the beach.
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22nd Place: Bermuda
- That supposed ship-smashing triangle gives the territory at its northeastern vertex a bad name, but maybe Bermuda's average life expectancy of 80.82 years can redeem its reputation. The British overseas territory of Bermuda sits all by its lonesome in the vast blue of the North Atlantic Ocean, offering the patrons of its thriving tourist industry a sunny and comfortable sub-tropical climate. It's also not a bad place to settle in, if you're in it for the long haul.
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21st Place: The Netherlands
- Though the Dutch capital city of Amsterdam is known around the world for, among its many genuine cultural treasures, a market in what we might call less-than-entirely-health-conscious activities, the Netherlands has very good numbers when it comes to life expectancy. At birth, people in the Netherlands have an average lifespan of 80.91 years.
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20th Place: Anguilla
- Another Caribbean island makes the list. The skies are wide and the sun is warm at the white sands of Shoal Bay East, Anguilla. This sun-slathered territory comes with a predicted average life expectancy of 80.98 at birth. Next, we'll head back north, to the edge of the Arctic Circle.
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19th Place: Iceland
- Above, bathers enjoy the geothermal warming of brackish, mineral-laden water at the Blue Lagoon hot spring in Iceland. Maybe it's the soothing vapors of natural springs like the one above, or maybe it's the low-hanging light of the midnight sun, but something keeps the people of Iceland going for many decades. This North Atlantic island has an average life expectancy of 81 years.
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18th Place: Israel
- We've seen jungle islands and snow-covered extremes -- but now we return to the geographic region shared by Jordan: the Fertile Crescent and, more specifically, the Levant. These arable lands in the desert can make for long lives, and Israel takes the calendar-count even higher than its neighbor, with a predicted lifespan of 81.07 years at birth.
Image Credit: Richard T. Nowitz/Corbis
17th Place: Switzerland
- Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Switzerland -- is there some correlation between long life and unregulated banking? Of course, much like these other places where the rich and powerful store their money, Switzerland offers much more than a tax haven. By almost any metric, Switzerland ranks near the top of any list of world countries by quality of life. Life expectancy is one of those metrics. The Swiss can expect 81.17 years at birth. Like Switzerland, the next country on the list is known for keeping neutral when it comes to wars.
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16th Place: Sweden
- Like many countries on this list, Sweden has strong government funding for health care. Additionally, Swedish citizens tend to benefit from the vigorous cardiovascular exercise provided by arguing with one's spouse about how to put together IKEA furniture. In Sweden, a child born in 2012 can be expected to live 81.18 years.
Image Credit: Peter Adams
15th Place: Spain
- After the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, Spain embarked on a journey of expeditious modernization for its economy, which paid great dividends of growth and development in the following decades. Today, Spain is a major economic power with a highly ranked standard of living. These wind turbines generate electricity for the Huelva Province in Western Andalusia. In Spain, the average person can bank on a life of 81.27 years. Next, you'll see Spain's northeastern neighbor.
Image Credit: Peter Adams
14th Place: France
- Here we arrive at France. These bustling restaurants lie along an avenue in Nice, which is on the southern coast of France, bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The "Mediterranean diet," which includes plenty of seafood, whole grains, red wine, vegetables and olive oil, has long been associated with good health and longevity. France can also claim the world's best health care system, according to a study by the World Health Organization that produced a ranked list at the turn of the millennium. France's at-birth life expectancy is 81.46 years.
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13th Place: Jersey
- Above, the sun rises over St. Aubins Harbour, Jersey. No, not New Jersey -- think the other side of the Atlantic. As part of the Channel Islands group, Jersey is an independently governed state at the same time that it is a British dependency. Jersey lies just off the coast of Normandy, in the English Channel, and has an average life expectancy of 81.47 years.
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12th Place: Canada
- Oh Canada -- the land of vast, breathtaking wildernesses, as well as affordable filming locations. As the second largest country in the world in terms of land mass, Canada offers residents plenty of leg room, in addition to solid health care and long life. If you're born today in that great big country, you can hit the statistical target by going for 81.48 years.
Image Credit: Kevin Law/Getty Images
11th Place: Liechtenstein
- Nestled cozily in between the borders of Austria and Switzerland, on the eastern bank of the cool blue Rhine, lies the tiny country of Liechtenstein. This is the alpine village of Triesenberg. Liechtenstein offers an impressive average life expectancy of 81.5 years.
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10th Place: Italy
- Here's another country where the "Mediterranean diet" is an honored tradition. Not only does Italy host a number of healthy dietary habits, it is also home to one of the highest-ranked health care systems on the planet -- #2 in 2000, according to the World Health Organization's massive millennial ranking. Italians hang in there an average of 81.86 years. Next, we'll take a peek back down at the Southern Hemisphere.
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9th Place: Australia
- It's a country; it's a continent; it's a fine place to grow old. This is Bondi Beach -- a raging sea-side hangout at the coastal edge of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The Australian lifestyle and healthcare system kicks the average all the way up to 81.9 years.
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8th Place: Hong Kong
- This bustling thoroughfare is the historic Fa Yuen Street Market in Hong Kong. But wait -- isn't Hong Kong part of China? Sort of. Hong Kong is considered a "special administrative region" (SAR), which means it has a large degree of economic and political autonomy from the rest of China -- you'll see another one of China's SAR's further along in the list. In Hong Kong, residents are expected to live an average of 82.12 years.
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7th Place: Guernsey
- Remember Jersey? Guernsey is another one of the less widely known independent countries on our list, and perhaps coincidentally, another one of the Channel Islands that poke up from the waves between France and the UK. Though its population numbers less than 70,000, those same inhabitants can hang around for quite a while, with an average 82.24 years of life.
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6th Place: Andorra
- With gorgeous slopes like this, it's no wonder Andorra has such a muscular tourist economy. This tiny principality between the borders of France and Spain boasts robust health and long life, weighing in with an average of 82.5 years for all citizens. On the next image, as you head into the final stretch of this list, you'll see a larger jump in figures than you've seen so far.
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5th Place: San Marino
- San Marino is another one of Europe's long-lived micro-countries, taking up only 23.5 square miles (61 square kilometers). While we've previously seen these tiny nations existing as islands or between the borders of larger international powers, San Marino is entirely subsumed within the borders of Italy. It claims to be the "world's oldest republic," and of course offers a very impressive average lifespan of 83.07 years.
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4th Place: Singapore
- Singapore keeps alive the tradition of Athens and Sparta as a powerful, self-governing city-state. What was originally banded together as a British trading outpost is now a thriving and prosperous urban business hub. Residents of Singapore can expect an average of 83.75 years at birth.
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3rd Place: Japan
- The "Okinawa diet" has become the basis for commercialized diet programs for a reason -- people see that in general, residents of Japan enjoy very good health, and many years of it. These anecdotal observations are confirmed by statistical data: Japan enjoys the third-longest average lifespan in the world -- at 83.91 years. And since the remaining top two countries on this list are both extremely small and extremely prosperous regions, Japan remains the longest-lived large country in the world.
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2nd Place - Macau
- You've seen Hong Kong. This is China's other prosperous autonomous "special administrative region" (SAR), meaning it retains control over its own strong economy. Here, you can see casinos spread out along Macau's Avenue de Infante. In Macau, life expectancy at birth stretches all the way up to 84.43 years. However, you won't believe how long you'd be expected to live if born today in the final country on this list.
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1st Place: Monaco
- In the final country on our list, life expectancy jumps up to almost nonagenarian footing. Monaco -- a tiny, dense, extremely wealthy principality on the southern coast of France -- is home to an average life expectancy of 89.68 years. So take that Mediterranean diet and climate, add in extravagant wealth, and you've got what looks like a recipe for good health and longevity. While you're at it, you might as well also consider the fact that swanky James Bond movies like
(2006) take place in Monaco, and if there's one truly immortal person on Earth, it's got to be James Bond. We're at two dozen films and counting, and this guy never seems to get any older.
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