‘Health is the state about which medicine has nothing to say.’ W. H. Auden
The literature is full of adventurers who searched for places on this earth where time stood still. In the 1933 novel Lost Horizon, British author James Hilton describes a place called Shangri-La in a mystical valley enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains between China and Tibet. Shangri-La soon became a byword for a secluded, idyllic place where people lived far beyond the average human lifespan.
Modern civilisation has brought us many fancy things and astounding advances in medicine, yet it’s brought us much misery too. So the dream of a mythical place where people live to 100 years or more in good health is more than appealing to those of us who want to avoid the chronic ills of civilisation.
The Secret to a Long Life
Wind the tape forward to the new millennium, and we find American journalist Dan Buettner and a couple of European demographers looking for places in the world that come close to the dream of Shangri-La. They found 5 places where people live longer, healthier and happier lives than people elsewhere: