Who are the tallest people in the world? The question can be answered in different ways. There are tallest individual persons, male and female. There are tallest people based on national average. One can also consider racial stock even though race is harder to define.
The Tallest People by Country
If we judge by national boundaries, the tallest people on average are in the Netherlands. According to the latest statistics, the Dutch people have an average height of 6’1” for all adults, male and female. This converts to 1.85 meters. Remarkably, it wasn’t always like this. Just a century ago, the average man stood only 5’2”!
The Second Tallest People by Country
Standing at second place are the citizens of Denmark. The Danish average 6’ or 1.83 meters. They are so close in height to the Dutch that some argue the Danes are in fact taller. For example, a 2007 report published in The Washington Post reports that the Danes are now the tallest people in the world, overtaking Americans.
America’s Decline in Stature (Literally)
Americans used to be the tallest people by country. Today the average American is only 5’10” tall. The average American male ranks only 9th in the list of tallest peoples; women are even lower at 15th place. Both are dwarfed by many European nations.
Height is believed to indicate the overall health and prosperity of a nation. As riches increase, so does a people’s average stature. But researchers believe that Americans lost their standing as the tallest people in the world, not due to lack of food but poor diet. Indeed, the life expectancy of the average American declined at the same time as the height average. Americans now rank between 28 and 38 in the world in terms of expected lifespan, behind many other developed countries. While Americans are no longer the world’s tallest people, they rank high among the heaviest.
Tallest People – Individuals
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the tallest person on earth was Robert Wadlow, an American. He was 8’11” tall. Wadlow’s unusual height was due to hypertrophy of the pituitary gland. Wadlow died at age 22. The tallest woman in the world was a Dutch lasy named Trijntje Keever. She was 8’4” tall and died at 17.