China’s Aging Population; The Town with 440 Centenarians

Rugao centenarians
Rugao, in Jiangsu province, now has 440 centenarians. Photo courtesy 东方大寿星园

Rugao, a city under the jurisdiction of Nantong, located in the southeast of Jiangsu province, recently registered a whopping 440 centenarians, making it one of China’s top places for longevity. 

Over the last decade, the county-level city has seen a considerable rise in average life expectancy, with people dying on average 2.5 years later than that of those recorded in 2010. 

Rugao, boasting a convivial environment, was named thus during the Sui Dynasty and in 1930 it was the most populous city in Jiangsu. 

Now also sporting the title of “Chinese Longevity City”, the people of Rugao claim a healthy diet and sleep regime, together with favourable environmental conditions, are key to their long lives. 

Rugao’s 1.43 million population has seen a yearly increase of 37 centenarians according to the Municipal for Working Commission on Ageing; 92 males and 348 females living over 100 years have been registered, the oldest being 110. 

The city has a humid, subtropical climate, while its annual average temperature is 15ºC, with ocean winds. The Rugao municipal government is said to have adopted stiff ecological regulations and spent significant funds to protect its environment.

Rumour has it that the secret to the city’s longevity lies in its food; porridge in the mornings and evenings and dry rice at noon. It is said that these centenarians make a porridge that consist of glutinous rice and cornmeal, which according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, strengthens the spleen and nourishes the stomach.

Elsewhere, local water is said to be cleaner than most places, on account of its geographical location. In addition, local soil is reported to be rich in selenium, boron and zinc, providing Rugao residents with vegetables such as radishes containing a high nutritional value.

The soil is also put to use for Bonsai production; the Asian cultivation art form is one of the city’s biggest exports, meaning it is the largest bonsai exporter in Eastern China, according to CFGuide, a China business and tour guide. Rugao was also host to the 2018 National Bonsai Exchange Conference in November of last year.

Locals insist that it be the pleasant mood of the city and a favourable clean environment, together with their moderate exercise, happy and strong family networks and a balanced diet, that has helped the elderly people of Rugao live long and healthy lives.  

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Renée Gray Beaumont
As an Australian journalist living in Nanjing for many years, Renée Gray Beaumont has a background in research, print and online publishing, taking great pleasure in discovering more about Nanjing with every article. 作为在南京居住多年的澳大利亚新闻工作者,Renee Gray Beaumont 有着调研以及印刷品和线上出版物的工作背景。她总是乐于在每篇文章里发现关于南京的内容。