London: The number of people living past 100 in England and Wales reached almost 9,000 last year for the first time, figures show.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of centenarians had increased ninety-fold since 1911 when there were only 100 in the country, according to estimates.
The rise is being attributed to dramatic improvements in healthcare and housing conditions over the past century which have have led to people living longer.
While the number of women surviving past the landmark birthday still far outnumber men, the gap has narrowed slightly in recent years, the figures show.
The ONS calculates that there were seven women over 100 for every man in the same age group last year, compared with a ratio of eight to one four years before.
The figures, calculated from mortality rates and other factors, estimate that there were 8,970 people over the age of 100 in England and Wales last year – up from 8,340 in 2005.
The rate at which the number of people in the 100-plus age group has grown has quickened in recent years.
The 7.5% rise last year compares with an average rate of 5.8% for most of the current decade.
The ONS said that before 1940, the average annual increase was 1.9%.
While that rate picked up to 6.4% after the Second World War, it later slowed between 1981 and 2001 – partly as a result of the effects of the First World War and the 1918 flu pandemic on the population.