Emma Morano is a walking wonder. When she was born on November 29, 1899, the world was in a strange situation. It was only the beginning of the Second Boer War then. 

The Italian lady was the "oldest person in the world," and the only human today who has seen three centuries - the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first. On Tuesday, Morano became 117.

She lives by herself in a one-room apartment in Verbania.  She celebrated her iconic birthday in May, when another centenarian, an American, Susannah Mushatt Jones, died at 116 years, according to CBS News.

What helped her to touch three centuries? Definitely, genetics played a part. Her mother had lived till 91, while two of her sisters had either crawled towards or passed 100.

Secondly, her diet included two raw eggs and one cooked egg daily.

Her third reason is of her own making. She ended an abusive marriage following her infant son's death in 1938. After that, she opted to remain single, saying in 2015 that "I didn't want to be dominated by anyone."

But her physician, Dr Carlo Bava said: "Her longevity is a genetic fact, nothing else. She is a person who from a young age had a difficult life that would have sapped the energy out of anyone."

Last Tuesday, she heard a happy birthday message from Italy's president. She was joined by her two elderly nieces, a pair of caregivers and Dr Bava. She opened presents and blew out three numbered candles that stood for "117" on her cake.

She declared: "I hope I don't have to cut it!" She then added that "I am happy to turn 117," which made her physician, Dr. Carlo Bava, add some encouraging words.

"Who would have said it?!" the doctor remarked. "When you were young everyone used to say you were weak and sick."

"Yes, yes," she responded.