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Determining exactly how long you will live is nearly impossible, but longevity and living a longer life is being studied now more than ever. Family history, nutritional habits, and physical fitness are obviously factors that contribute to a longer life, but an aspect that many people may not take into consideration is their geographical location.

One’s location can play a large role in determining just how long they may live. This may be obvious when looking at underdeveloped countries and those more prone to famine or disease, but there are many societal aspects that can lead to a shorter or longer lifespan in any country in the world; specifically, the United States.

Considered one of the most dramatic statistics discovered in the U.S., some counties vary in life expectancy by as much as 20 years. Many professionals believe that the largest reasons why that is include average income, and education. Both of these are relative to one’s access to healthcare. The more educated an individual is, the more likely they will seek out a healthcare plan fitting for them, but to have the money to afford it is an entirely different story.

Take a look at this map. Areas like Oglala Lakota County in South Dakota have a significantly shorter life expectancy, with an average of 67 years. This may be due to the surprisingly low average income (roughly $26,000) combined with the how few citizens earned anything higher than a high school degree.

On the other hand, areas in central Colorado tend to see a much higher life expectancy than most, with an average of 85 years. Citizens here tend to be much more affluent, with better access to healthcare, and better healthcare plans that come with more money. Living in an environment that encourages outdoor activity certainly helps as well. Many residents ski, snowboard, hike, and more in the state of Colorado.

Lifestyle behaviors are obviously large factors in the contributions to life expectancy, and these can be molded by the environments we live in. These trends seem to be continuing in their normal directions, with many county’s life expectancies increasing, and other’s decreasing. Thus, the gap continues to grow.