As most people know, average heights differ from country to country. People tend to be taller in northern latitudes and short closer to the equator. Genetics and nutrition play the most important roles in determining height. Some countries saw a marked increase in average height last century when food became abundant enough to feed the population. In many of these countries, older people, who did not have the benefit of better nutrition, are significantly shorter than the younger generations.

The table below lists height for different countries and the sources1 ] for that data. Significant digits are preserved from the source. In some cases a height is accurate to .1 inches (or .1 cm) while in others it is only accurate to 1 inch (or .1cm). Multiple studies for a country might determine different heights because of the age group studied or the year the study was conducted.

Country   Men          
(cm)
  Women          
(cm)
Source
Australia 5' 10"   178   5' 4.6" 164   Australian Bureau of Statistics 1995
Brazil 5' 6.9" 170.0 Not Avail. Pheasant 1996
China 5' 6"   168   5' 2"   157   Times Online 2005
5' 6.6" 169.1 5' 1.2" 155.4 People Size 1998
France 5' 7.7" 171.9 5' 3.1" 160.4 Rebiffe et al. 1981-82
Germany 5' 8.2" 173   5' 3.7" 162   Deutsches institut für Normung 1986
Italy 5' 8.0" 172.8 5' 3.4" 161.0 Masali, et al 1992
Japan 5' 6"   168   5' 1"   155   Times Online 2005
5' 6.4" 168.7 5' 1.3" 155.8 People Size 1998
Netherlands 5' 10.7" 179.5 5' 5.0" 165.0 Pheasant 1996
6' 1"   185   5' 8"   172   Times Online 2005
Sri Lanka 5' 4.5" 163.9 5' 0.0" 152.3 Abeysekera & Shahnavas 1987
Sweden 5' 8.5" 174   5' 4.6" 164   Pheasant 1996
United Kingdom2 ]   5' 10"   178   5' 4"   163   Times Online 2005
5' 9.1" 175.5 5' 3.8" 162.0 People Size 1998
United States3 ] 5' 10"   178   5' 4"   163   Times Online 2005
5' 9.3" 176.0 5' 4.1" 162.7 People Size 1998
Vietnam 5' 3"   160   4' 10"   147   Times Online 2005

[ 1 ] Except for Times Online, all sources are summarized from:
ADULTDATA
The Handbook of Adult Anthropometric and Strength Measurements
- Data for Design Safety
Laura Peebles and Beverly Norris
Institute for Occupational Ergonomics, Dept. of Manuf. Engineering & Operations Mgmt.
University of Nottingham

[ 2 ] Information about height in the United Kingdom is available at the Health Survey for England Web site managed by the Department of Health. The 2nd tab of the Adult Trend Tables 2007 provides height data.

[ 3 ] Detailed statics about height and other body measurements in the United States is avaible from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.