China oldest woman He Er'xiu
He Er'xiu, believed to be the oldest woman in China, has died at the age of 117 in east China's Jiangxi

He Er'xiu, believed to be the oldest woman in China, has died at the age of 117 in the country's east Jiangxi Province.

She passed away on Tuesday at her home in Wenshui Villlage, Yongxin County, surrounded by 100 members of her family and friends.

Born in January 1898, He Er'xiu had six children. Her husband died 53 years ago in 1961 at the age of 79.

Liu Jinguang, a village official, said she was lucid before she died: "She was an outgoing woman and was clearheaded before she passed away."

Jinguang added that the secret to her long life was working out regularly and drinking rice wine, which she made herself.

In October 2013, the Geriatric Society of China claimed that the oldest person in the country was Alimihan Seyti, an Uygur who was born June 25, 1886. However, this cannot be verified.

Seyti lives in the Shule County in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Bama County, in southern Guanxi, has been branded Longevity Village as in December 2013, it was home to 81 centenarians. Proportional to population, it is around five times China's average.

Tourists have flocked to the area, which has become a travel hotspot, with over 600,000 people visiting the village in the first five months of 2013. It is estimated that 20,000 health tourists travel to the area, to receive wise knowledge from the elderly residents.

It is believed that drinking and bathing in the water leads to longer life, while the surrounding rocks and boulders are thought to provide geomagnetic therapy. It is believed to have a beneficial effect on the heart, the brain and, according to some, varicose veins.

In May 2013, a study revealed that women lived longer than men partly because their immune systems age more slowly. According to the Immunity & Ageing Journal, as the body's defences weaken over time, men's susceptibility to disease shortens their lifespan.

The study suggests tests of immune system function could give a true indication of biological age, as it protects the body from infection and cancer but can cause disease when not properly regulated.