16 JANUARY 2015, 09:30 (GMT+04:00) By Nazrin Gadimova

Happiness, health, and long life are the most popular wishes at every holiday. People has always been oppressed by awareness of the transience of their existence, though exactly the understanding of life finiteness is probably the engine that makes us grow and move forward in the hope of leaving good memory after death.

At all times people want to live long and well. More than one generation of scientists and alchemists has worked over the “elixir of immortality” many centuries. However, no one has achieved the results so far. No matter how, the fact is that in different parts of our planet there are people whose ages are significantly higher than the established level.

Being the lullaby of antiquity, Azerbaijan can be proud with its centenarians. One of Azerbaijan’s centenarians was Shirali Muslimov, shepherd, who lived 169 years, establishing an unprecedented record in the history of longevity. Muslimov’s soviet passport stated that he was born on March 26, 1805.

His name resounded throughout the country for many years. Press and television consistently wrote about and shown Muslimov among his numerous descendants to countless knee, on horseback, and during the work in the garden. The 150th anniversary of Shirali in 1955 was truly a national holiday for the Azerbaijani people.

But the Guinness Book of Records did not name Shirali, because there were no birth certificate proving the exact date of his birth. The date of his birth was determined by the clay pot buried in the ground, on which child’s name and year of birth were written. Even in his record-senile years he had an excellent memory and even remembered the end of Persian rule, despite the fact that it was in the first quarter of the 19th century!

Throughout Azerbaijan, there are numerous regions where longevity is the norm including: Lerik, Lankaran, Masalli, Zagatala, Gusar, Gazakh, Tovuz, Ismayilli, Jalilabad, Shamakhi, Lachin, Kalbajar, and Aghdam.

Contrary to wide-spread belief, the majority of centenarians were not found to be living in the mountains but rather in the foothill regions where the average elevations was between 500-800 meters. Population longevity is possible in different climatic regions. More determinate was the people’s adaptation to concrete environmental conditions which seemingly was related to the duration of that people in the area.

People in Baku idealize the country life and suggest that lack of stress plays an important role. But many centenarians have not lived under optimal conditions. What tends to be generally true is that most of them are optimists and most were still married in their old age or were trying to remarry after their spouse had died.

The recent studies, carried out by Azerbaijan’s National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) in order to study the physiological bases of longevity, found that the number of male centenarians outnumber women centenarians in the southern parts of the country.

Despite the fact that throughout the world, including Azerbaijan, most centenarians are women, according to the results of research, the number of male centenarians in Azerbaijan’s Lerik, Astara and Lankaran is more.

“In today’s world, women live longer than men,” ANAS said. “However, in the southern parts of the country the number of male centenarians outnumber women centenarians, and it is connected with a special relation to the men in these areas.”

Studies carried out so far in the north-western parts of the country, including Ismayilli, Gabala, Gakh, Zagatala, Sheki regions found that there are long-livers among women with two or three children.

As a result of research, scientists have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to put the conditions of longevity within certain limits, because each region and geographical area has its own special characteristics of longevity.

Furthermore, ANAS has held research in all Absheron peninsula for the past five years. Thus, ANAS said the conditions of the peninsula are not conducive to longevity. Most centenarians here live up to 92-93 years, but at the same time, most of them do not lead an active lifestyle.

Statistics shows an increase in life expectancy in developed countries. A team of scientists at Stanford University argues that the life expectancy could increase to 100 years thanks to medicine by 2030. In their view, modern medicine is at a high level, which greatly facilitates the treatment of many serious diseases.

But what is the secret of longevity? Obviously, in the mountainous areas, people live a long time using ancestral traditions without changing their habits. For centuries, the mountains protected them from slavery, wars, epidemics and social unrests. Over a long period a special way of life was developed, an it passed from generation to generation. Thus, a concentration of centenarians increased naturally in these regions.

About 42 percent of all inhabitants of the planet, who have reached 100 years or more live in the Caucasus region, which is studied more fully. It became clear that they live a long time not because they drink goat’s milk, or special sort of wine, which slow down the aging process, and not because they eat cheese with nutrients that strengthen the walls of blood vessels. More importantly is that they eat precisely those foods which their ancestors ate. Their body is adapted to these products for many centuries.

However, both scientists, who study the prolongation of life in theory, and centenarians themselves agree on one thing: the main guarantee of long life are good spirits. The fact that optimistic people live longer than pessimists is proved long ago. Despite the problems, people must enjoy life, do not make tragedies of failures and defeats, but to learn a lesson from them in order to move forward.