The average life expectancy in Latin America has risen from 29 years in 1900 to 74 years in 2010, according to a study presented by the Pan American Health Organization, or PAHO.

The report, presented at this week's 28th Pan American Health Conference in Washington, analyzes the advances made in - and challenges facing - the countries of the region in improving the health of their citizens.

Among the main achievements, PAHO emphasizes that 98 percent of children in the region live beyond the age of 1 whereas 100 years ago just 75 percent did so.

Despite the improvements made over the past century, the report warns that in some countries inequalities persist that could threaten those advances.

PAHO acknowledges that in recent years public spending on health care rose, but there are still 274 million citizens in Latin America and the Caribbean - 46 percent of the region's population - who, in effect, don't have health insurance.

There are notable differences between the richest and the poorest countries in Latin America, as well as among the rural population, which has greater difficulty getting access to health services.

PAHO says that, for example, life expectancy in Chile is 79.2 years, while in Bolivia it is 66.8 years.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the population of the Americas was 194 million and in 2010 it exceeded 940 million, and estimates are that in 2020 it will total 1.03 billion, equivalent to 13.4 percent of the world population.

The Americas are the most urbanized region in the world, according to the report, and it is anticipated that by 2025 the region will be home to nine of the world's most populous 30 cities: Sao Paulo, Mexico City, New York, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Bogota, Lima and Chicago. 

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