Centenarians are the fastest-growing age group in Britain, with the number of over-100s doubling in the last 15 years.
There is also a record population of over-90s, with Office For National Statistics figures revealing a boom in Britons surviving to a great old age.
While they make up a tiny proportion of the UK population, the 14,910 centenarians alive in 2016 is nearly double the 7,750 recorded in 2002 – and quadruple the total of 1986.
Some 14,910 people in Britain have reached 100 according to the Office for National Statistics
The number of people over 90 is also the highest ever at 571,245 – up 50 per cent on 2002.
Many more women than men live to a very old age, with five over-100 females for every male one. The ONS said reasons for improved mortality among older age groups include better medical treatment, living standards and nutrition.
It also estimated that nearly a third of today’s newborn girls can expect to live into their 90s, as life expectancy inches upwards.
The number of nonagenarians and centenarians has been rising consistently in recent years, apart from a blip between 2005 and 2008 which was a result of low birth rates during the First World War.
Ngaire Coombs of the ONS said: ‘The population aged 90 and over grew rapidly in recent years, but this was largely driven by people who were born during the post World War I baby boom reaching age 90 and progressing through the oldest ages.’ In 1914, there were only 100 centenarians in the whole of Britain.
King George V sent out 14 telegrams to people who had reached 100 in 1917
When King George V sent out the first 100th birthday congratulatory telegrams in 1917, the bills were modest because only 24 were dispatched – compared to more than 5,000 in 2013.
Overall, life expectancy has reached its highest ever level, with a baby boy born today predicted to reach 79.2 years and a girl surviving to 82.9 years.
This is an increase of 0.1 per cent on the previous year, following recent controversy over why life expectancy growth has slowed.
However, Scots’ lifespan continues to fall behind the UK average, unchanged on last year at 77.1 years for boys and 81.2 for girls.
This may be due to lifestyle differences such as greater rates of smoking and drug-related death.For the UK as a whole, increasing longevity will mean 32 per cent of women and 21 per cent will reach 90 years old, the ONS predicts.
But since 2010, life expectancy growth has more than halved compared to the 30 years prior.
The ONS analysis said previous successes in challenging early death, such as drives to reduce smoking and circulatory, could be behind the halt.
The report said : ‘The main driver of population ageing in recent decades has been improving mortality at all ages, but particularly at older ages. Improvements are due factors such as improved medical treatments, housing and living standards, nutrition, and changes in the population’s smoking habits.’