August 31, 2011
Maria Lucimar Pereira is arguably the world's oldest living person: a member of the Kaxinawá tribe, Pereira lives in the Brazilian Amazon and will be soon celebrating her 121st birthday, according to Survival International.
Pereira has had an official birth certificate approved in 1985 that states her year of birth as 1890, meaning she would have been 24 when World War I broke out, 49 when World War II commenced, and 79 when the first man set foot on the moon.
According to Survival International, Pereira believes her longevity is due to her lifestyle. She eats no salt, sugar or processed food, but sticks to Amazonian staples like monkey, fish, manioc, and banana porridge.
"All too often we witness the negative effects forced change can have on indigenous peoples. It is refreshing to see a community that has retained strong links to its ancestral land and enjoyed the undeniable benefits of this," said Stephen Corry, Survival International director. Of 80 people in the Kaxinawá village, four are over 90.
Pereira's remarkably long life was first noticed by the staff of Brazil's National Institute of Social Security (INSS) when they were checking birth certificates. Her status as the world oldest person still needs to be 'verified' if possible. If it is officially verified, she would be the oldest living person on Earth by 6 years. The oldest person every verified was Jeanne Calment who died at the age of 122.
Pereira's 121st birthday is on Saturday and she says she'll be spending it with her family.