Khagendra Thapa Magar from Nepal, thought to be the world's smallest living man at just 22 inches (56 centimetres), has turned 18 and now hopes to be officially recognised for his record size.

Four years ago, Thapa had his application for a Guinness World Record for the smallest man rejected because at just 14 he was too young to qualify. But on Wednesday he started adulthood and is now set to submit another application.

"Now he has turned 18, we will forward the necessary documents to Guinness officials," Thapa's father, Rup Bahadur Thapa Magar, told AFP by telephone as the family prepared for a birthday celebration.

"I want him to have a good future. I want him to be educated and live an independent life.

"When he was born he was so small he could fit in the palm of your hand. But I am proud to be his father. He has brought fame not just for himself but for his country."

According to a website set up by his supporters, Thapa weighed only 600 grams (21 ounces) at birth and his hobbies include "playing with pebbles" and "worshipping Buddha."

The Guinness Book of Records website lists the late Gul Mohammed of New Delhi as the shortest adult human being ever, at 22 inches.

The current record for world's shortest living man is held by He Pingping of China, who is 28.7 inches (73 centimetres) tall.