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Average Height Around the World

Average Height Around the World – The approximate average height of a woman is 163 cm or 5 feet 4.3 inches and the average height of a man is 176.5 cm or 5 feet 9.5 cm. That’s what the World Health Organization estimates.

But globally, the fact is that the average height of a woman is only 159.5 cm or 5 feet 2.8 inches. While the average height of men is 172 cm or 5 feet 7.3 inches. Thus, the global difference in height between women and men is 4.5 inches or 12 cm.

So, there is a difference between the expected or estimated average height and the actual average height. This difference occurs because of poor nutrition or because of disease. In addition, the average height of a society or population is closely related to the habits and living conditions in a population.

So, if the habits and living conditions of each population affect the height of a population, then between each country also experiences differences in average height because of course between each country and region or continent has different living conditions.

In this article we compare the average height of men and women between countries and continents. But first let’s look at the average height of Americans.

Average Height of US-Americans

In the past, between 1999 and 2016 the National Health and Nutrition Examination (NCHS) conducted a large-scale study of the height, weight and average BMI of the American population. This sample was taken in people over the age of 20 years.

In the observation period, which ranged from 1999-2016, it turned out that the average body weight, waist circumference, and BMI increased during the observation period. But for height did not show a significant increase. Some groups did not show a change in average height, even some groups showed a slight decrease in their height.

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Mean height decreased in the group of men aged 40-59 from 1999 to 2016, and there was also a decrease in mean height among non-Hispanic black men over the span of observation. While a rough estimate that the overall height of women has decreased significantly. The decrease in women’s average height between 1999 and 2016 was from 16.1 cm or 5 feet 3.8 inches to 161.5 cm or 5 feet 3.6 inches.

While research says that the average height of Americans is increasing, the increase is slow when compared to the increase in the average height of people in other countries in the last century. In 1914, an American man was the third tallest person in the world, and an American woman was the 4th tallest person in the world.

A century later, women rank 42nd and men 37th in average height globally. Below is a table showing the average height of adult Americans by age and race, from 2015 to 2016. The average height of men is 175.1 cm and the average height of women is 161.4 cm.

Let’s look at the table below about the average height of American adults in 2015-2016.

 Age group Men Women
20-39 69.3 in (176.1 cm) 64.0 in (162.7 cm)
40-59 69.2 in (175.8 cm) 63.8 in (162.1 cm)
60 and over 68.3 in (173.4 cm) 62.7 in (159.3 cm)

Table 1: Fryar, CD. et al. (2018, December). Mean height (inches, centimeters) among men and women by age group in the United States, 2015-2016.

While below is a table of the average height of American adults by race and Hispanic origin, from 2015 to 2016.

 Race and Hispanic Origin Men Women
Non-Hispanic White 69.8 in (177.4 cm) 64.3 in (163.3 cm)
Non-Hispanic Black 69.1 in (175.5 cm) 64.0 in (162.6 cm)
Non-Hispanic Asian 66.8 in (169.7 cm) 61.5 in (156.2 cm)
Hispanic 66.7 in (169.5 cm) 61.7 in (156.7 cm)

Table 2: Fryar, CD. et al. (2018, December). Mean height (inches, centimeters) among men and women by age group in the United States, 2015-2016.

How Tall Are People Across The Globe?

As we have mentioned that the average height of people in an area is not only caused by genetics, but is also influenced by the conditions of the area. Environmental factors also influence such as nutrition, urbanization, health, and regional climate, all of which affect the development of children and adolescents (those who are still growing).

If we look all over the world for the tallest man and tallest woman globally, then those who are tall in Europe are the tallest in the world. The average height of a European is 180 cm for men and 167 cm for women, followed by Australia. South Asians and Southeast Asians are the shortest humans, with the average height of women being 153 cm and men 165 cm.

 Continent Men Women
North America 5 ft 9.7 in (177 cm) 5 ft 4.6 in (164 cm)
South America 5 ft 7.3 in (171 cm) 5 ft 2.2 in (158 cm)
Central America 5 ft 6.1 in (168 cm) 5 ft 1.0 in (155 cm)
Africa 5 ft 6.1 in (168 cm) 5 ft 2.2 in (158 cm)
West, East, Central Asia 5 ft 7.3 in (171 cm) 5 ft 2.6 in (159 cm)
South, South-East Asia 5 ft 4.6 in (164 cm) 5 ft 0.2 in (153 cm)
Europe 5 ft 10.9 in (180 cm) 5 ft 5.7 in (167 cm)
Australia 5 ft 10.5 in (179 cm) 5 ft 5.0 in (165 cm)

Table 3: WorldData.info. Average sizes of men and women. Retrieved from https://www.worlddata.info/average-bodyheight.php#by-population

Where Do The World’s Tallest People Live?

So, we know that the tallest men and women are in the European region. Men in the Netherlands have an average height of 182.5 cm or 5 feet 11.9 inches. While the tallest woman in the world is in the Latvian region with the average height of a woman there is 170 cm or 5 feet 6.9 inches.

In the table below we look at the 10 highest populations (male and female) by country:

The World’s 10 Tallest Countries

  • Bosnia & Herzegovina – 6′ 0.5″ (183.9 cm)
  • The Netherlands – 6′ 0.5″ (183.8 cm)
  • Montenegro – 6′ 0″ (183.2 cm)
  • Denmark – 6′ 0″ (182.6 cm)
  • Norway – 5′ 11.75″ (182.4 cm)
  • Serbia – 5′ 11.5″ (182.0 cm)
  • Iceland – 5′ 11.5″ (182.0 cm)
  • Germany – 5′ 11.25″ (181.0 cm)
  • Croatia – 5′ 11″ (180.5 cm)\
  • The Czech Republic – 5′ 11″ (180.3 cm)

Until the mid-19th century, the Dutch were actually the shortest people in Europe. However, due to changes in the quality of life, the wealth of the population is more evenly distributed, then in the 1980s the Dutch became the tallest people in Europe.

Where Do The World’s Shortest People Live?

Now that we know where the world’s tallest people live, now let’s see where the world’s shortest people live.

Currently the shortest men have an average height of 160 cm or 5 feet 3 inches, they live in Timor, Southeast Asia. While the shortest women in the world are in Guatemala with an average height of 149 cm or 4 feet 10.7 inches.

The World’s 10 Shortest Countries

  • Indonesia – 5′ 2.25″ (158.0 cm)
  • Bolivia – 5′ 3″ (160.0 cm)
  • The Philippines – 5′ 3.75″ (161.9 cm)
  • Vietnam – 5′ 3.75″ (162.1 cm)
  • Cambodia – 5′ 4″ (162.5 cm)
  • Nepal – 5′ 4.25″ (163.0 cm)
  • Ecuador – 5′ 4.25″ (163.5 cm)
  • Sri Lanka – 5′ 4.5″ (163.6 cm)
  • Nigeria – 5′ 4.5″ (163.8 cm)
  • Peru – 5′ 4.5″ (164.0 cm)

Countries such as Indonesia and Bolivia are among the poorest in the world, and many children are chronically malnourished leading to shorter hospital stays than the world’s average population should be.

Looking at the recent growth and development of life, South Korean women and Iranian men have shown the greatest increase in average height in the last century. Korean women’s height increased to 7.95 inches or 20.2 cm. While the increase in the average height of Iranian men is 6.50 inches or 16.5 cm.