While increased globalization and immigration has contributed to a homogenization of the global gene pool, it is true that some countries have far taller people than others. Whether this is due to genetics, better development, nutrition, more advanced healthcare or a combination of the factors – people from these ten countries are known for their height – while people in many East Asian and several African countries are much shorter in stature.
The United States
In the second half of the 20th century the United States were the undisputed king of tall men and women, with better nutrition than anywhere else in the world (thanks to the after WWII devastation in most of Europe) and a mixture of genetic stock from all over the globe. The United States still has many of the world’s tallest people – including the vast majority of the professional basketball players over 7’ tall. It’s worth mentioning, that according to scientists, the US is about to lose its top-10 tall nations status. Some contribute it to unbalanced diet and a number of ecologic factors, so it’s pretty interesting to see how the situation will go from here.
Most famous tall people? A lot. Like, really a lot. Take almost any famous NBA 7-footer. While there are many, the average height gets bumped down by dudes like Muggsy Bogues and Kevin Hart.
When you think of Ireland, you might not think of height – but men in Ireland actually average a bit over 5’10”, making them some of the tallest in the world. Not only do Irish men cultivate stunningly red hair and beards and famous for their strong drinking game and fighting, but they also tower over almost every other nation in the world with average height of 5’10.
Most famous? Liam Neeson (6’4)
Ancient Greek statues, especially the Colossus of Rhodes, are proof that Greeks have always been tall and strongly proportioned. Today, Greek men are taller than anyone else in the Mediterranean region, carrying on the genetic line from Alexander the Great. That awesome weather and super-healthy diet must factor into Greeks average 5’10 ½ too
Famous tall Greeks? Georgios Papagiannis( 7’2). Are you asking who Georgios is? Honestly, I have no idea, but he seems to be good (and certainly large) enough for Sacramento Kings to take him with the 13th pick of this year NBA Draft.
Germans have strong bone structure, broad shoulders, and exceptional average height at 5’11. German athletes are universally some of the tallest in their sports, be it swimmers, skiers, track-and-field athletes or German national soccer team, which has the highest average height of any team and any championship you take.
Famous taller German guy? Dirk Nowitzki, at a full 7’0. Sort of a no-brainer, right? Although he is still just a tad too short to make our tallest NBA players of all-time list.
Over the last decade, the Czech Republic has seen unparalleled growth across the full breadth of its country’s industrial base. Not only that, but the Czech Republic also boasts a number of world-famous historical sites, mild climate and is located conveniently in the central Europe. If you combine all of the factors, you will get one of the fastest growing Eastern European countries. What this means for the average Czech citizen is clear – and Czech men are now averaging almost a full six feet tall (5’11)
At 6’11, Jan Vesely is probably the most famous vertically gifted Czech.
Don’t let the tiny size of the nation of Croatia fool you, Croatian men and women are the tallest in the Balkans. Croatians are extremely successful in basketball thanks to their overall height, and the rapid growth in Croatia’s quality of life points to increased growth in the heights of Croatians.
Most famous tall Croatians? Toni Kukoc (6’11), Dario Saric (6’10), Dragan Bender (7’1).
Lithuania is another success story of Eastern Europe, and it is proof positive that better quality of life leads to an increase in average height. Academic studies that were done in Lithuania around the 1800s and 1900s showed that the average Lithuanian of that era were only around 5’3”, but they have increased in height by more than seven inches in the last century, now standing full 6 feet.
Notable taller guys from Lithuania: Lithuania is famous mostly for its basketball players, none more widely loved at home like Arvydas Sabonis (7’3), and none more buzzy right now like his son Domantas (6’11), 11th pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
There is a correlation between the country’s GDP and the average height of its people, suggesting that increased wealth leads to greater access to better nutrition and healthcare that can help people grow to their full potential. Sweden has one of the world’s highest per capita income, arguably the best social support system and Swedes are clearly doing well – with the average male height towering over the rest of Europe at almost 6 feet tall.
Most famous tall Swede? Hans “Dolph” Lundgren (6’5)
Norway is at the top of lots of lists. Norway is at the pinnacle of the human development index, it has become the most developed country in the world in terms of social services, and it has the highest quality of life in the world. In addition, the people of Norway descended from the Vikings – men that were known for their amazing height and strength
Fun fact: Morten Harket (co-founder and lead singer of A-HA) stood at 6’2.
It is hard to explain why the Netherlands consistently tops the list of the tallest countries, but it is probably a combination of the great diet and the genetic line stretching back to the Normans. Every year, the average height of Dutch men and women increases by a fraction of an inch, even leading various activists groups to fight for the rights of tall people and make their country more “tall-friendly” like increasing the heights of all the door frames.
Tallest Dutch man? Rik Smits (7’4)