Why the Caucasus Has So Many 100-Year-Olds

The mountainous region where Azerbaijanis live up to 100 years old
The mountainous region where Azerbaijani's live up to 100 years old | © Matthew Hadley/WikiCommons
Sam Bedford

Meet Magomed Labazanov. Magomed came from Dagestan in the North Caucasus and saw the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. In 2012 he died at 122 years old. Cases like this aren’t uncommon in the Caucasus. Culture Trip aims to find out why the people here seem to live so long.

Where are the Caucasus Mountains?

The Caucasus Mountains have the highest proportion of centenarians, or people living longer than 100 years, in the world. Geographically, the region lies between the Caspian and Black Seas, sandwiched between Russia in the north and Iran to the south. According to many, the Caucasus has an unusually high number of healthy centenarians who seem to forget to die. And most of these incredible people are mentally and physically strong with a normal heart rate and blood pressure. They seem resistant, if not immune, to age-related health issues suffered by so many elderly people around the globe.

Village in Dagestan.

In the mountains and foothills, rural villages remain relatively unchanged for centuries. Perhaps a daily diet of cheese, fermented goat milk and yoghurt combined with a lack of alcohol and abstaining from smoking hold the answer. People also grow vegetables in their gardens without pesticides and eat fruit straight from the trees. The high concentrations of anti-oxidants, vitamin C and other minerals in these promote a healthy and robust body.

But millions of others have a healthy and proactive lifestyle. What makes the Caucasus different?

Perhaps the altitude plays a role. Scientific studies show that living in the mountains at high elevations tend to increase longevity. When oxygen levels are lower, the body produces more red blood cells and blood vessels. More red cells mean oxygen gets transported around the body faster. More blood vessels lowers the chance of a blockage that can cause a fatal heart attack or stroke. The air quality is much higher and free of pollution in the mountains too.

The secret to the famed longevity in the Caucasus probably results from a healthy and active lifestyle while living at altitude. Combine this with a probably genetic predisposition to longevity and you have a region with lots of centenarians.

Are the claims credible?

Stories in some villages claim living older than 100 is normal. But when the numbers range around 140 years and higher, it gets more difficult to accept. An example of this is Shirali Muslimov who, according to official records, died at the age of 168. Put in context, the oldest undisputed human lived to 122 years old.

Several factors make the claims murky. Few villagers recorded their births before 1920. A lack of undisputed records and scientific studies creates too much subjectivity to fully trust the outlandish claims.

Despite this, one thing’s for sure: the centenarians in the Caucasus do live longer and healthier and have fewer age-related disorders compared to the rest of the world. As Shirali Muslimov once said: ‘At that age, what difference does 20 or 30 years make?’

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

X
Edit article