Bolivian woman Julia Flores Colque may be world’s oldest person at nearly 118

Julia Flores Colque (AP) Credit: AP/Press Association Images

This Bolivian woman is thought to be the world’s oldest person, with a recorded age of almost 118.

Julia Flores Colque still sings in her native Quechua tongue and strums a tiny guitar known as the charango at her home in the rural town of Sacaba.

In her long life, she has witnessed two world wars, revolutions in her native Bolivia and the transformation of her home town from having a population of 3,000 people to a bustling city of more than 175,000 in five decades.

Flores Colque plays with Chiquita, one of the family pet dogs. Credit: AP

Her national identity card says she was born on October 26, 1900, in a mining camp in the Bolivian mountains.

Aged 117 and 10 months, Colque would be the oldest woman in the Andean nation and perhaps the oldest living person in the world.

However, Guinness World Records has said it has received no application for her and she does not seem to care that her record has not been confirmed - Colque has not even heard of the reference book.

The centenarian still plays a charango, a small Andean stringed instrument. Credit: AP

These days, the 117 year-old enjoys the company of her dogs, cats and chickens.

She is full of life, loves a good cake and singing folkloric songs in Quechua to anyone who comes to visit the dirt-floor adobe home she shares with her 65-year-old grand-niece, Agustina Berna.

Colque told reporters: "If you would have told me you were coming, I’d have remembered all the songs."

Growing up, the now-centenarian herded sheep and llamas in the Bolivian highlands until she moved in her teenage years to a valley, where she began selling fruits and vegetables.

The 117-year-old with her her grand-niece Agustina Berna and her great-grandniece Rosa Lucas at their home in Sacaba Credit: AP

She never married and has no children.

The previously world’s oldest person, a 117-year-old Japanese woman, died earlier this year.

Nabi Tajima was born on August 4, 1900, her passing apparently leaves Colque as the world’s oldest living person.

Birth certificates did not exist in Bolivia until 1940, and births previously were registered with baptism certificates provided by Roman Catholic priests.

Flores Colque’s national identity card, however, has been certified by the Bolivian government.

Flores Colque can still walk, confounding the diagnosis of a local doctor after she suffered a fall. Credit: AP

Her longevity is striking in Bolivia, which still has one of South America’s highest levels of mortality, according to the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Sacaba mayor’s office has named Colque a living heritage.

The office and a private foundation have improved her home, building a brick path where she walks, and a shower and toilet with a railing so the centenarian can safely make her way to the bathroom at night.

Just a few years ago, she still walked briskly however she soon fell and hurt her back and a doctor said she would never walk again, but she proved the doctor wrong.