Japan retained the top spot in terms of average life expectancy for both sexes in 2011, tying with Switzerland and San Marino, a republic surrounded by Italy, the World Health Organization said in a report released Wednesday.

Men and women in the three countries live to an average age of 83, the WHO said in "World Health Statistics 2013."

Japan has placed first in the annually compiled list for more than 20 years, but more countries are likely to catch up with Japan, where the smoking rate is high, a WHO official said.

San Marino caught up with Japan to share the top spot for the first time in the previous year's report, while Switzerland joined them for the first time.

Japanese women's average life expectancy was 86, maintaining first place, but Japanese men's average life expectancy fell to 79 from 80 in last year's report.

Qatari men had the longest life expectancy, at 83, while Japanese men were overtaken by those in countries such as Sweden and Singapore in this year's report.