I started to put some very basic camino statistics in my last post and, before publishing, wanted to validate against the data reported by the Pilgrims’ Office on it’s website. They provide a ton of fascinating historical information (if you’re into that kind of stuff and I am) on pilgrims, e.g. nationality, gender, starting point, etc. I started to add more and more information to my post until, finally, I decided that camino statistics warranted it’s own post. So, voila . . .
The above chart shows the pilgrims who made it to Santiago and collected a Compostela and captures how tremendously popular this Catholic pilgrimage has become in recent years. The Church grants a Compostela to anyone who reaches the Tomb of the Apostle 1) by walking or riding a horse at least the last 100 km or biking the last 200 km and 2) “makes[s] the pilgrimage with Christian sentiment”. There are people who walk over 100 km but do not collect a Compostela because of #2 above or the line at the Pilgrims’ Office is too long or the Compostela is not that important to them; the journey is their reward. Obviously, these people plus all the people that drop out, would not be included in these numbers. Also, the French make up the majority of the hikers (not pilgrims) on the Le Puy Route but very few continue on to Santiago. They are also not included in this headcount either. Incidentally, over 90% of the pilgrims walk.
Holy Year: The years with spikes are Holy Years. This is when the Feast of St James (July 25th) falls on a Sunday. There is a door in the Santiago Cathedral which is opened during Holy Years (and certain specific events/situations as mandated by the Pope) and pilgrims may enter thru this door. Next Holy Year: 2021. Start planning, Pilgrim!
|Pilgrim Count By Route|
|Camino Del Norte||17,289||5,378||221%|
|Via de la Plata||9,067||3,523||157%|
The Francés (A on the above map) continues to be the grandaddy of all the routes but it’s growth has slowed in favor of some of the other routes. This indicates that the camino, in total, continues to be very popular but has the Francés peaked?
|Percentages By Route|
|Camino Del Norte||6.2%||5.4%||16%|
|Via de la Plata||3.3%||3.5%||-7%|
This shows each route as a percentage of the total, comparing 2016 to 2006, and confirming that the growth of the other routes, has some from Francés and to a lesser degree the Via de la Plata.
|Percentages By Nationality|
USA! USA! USA! Huge increase in Americans.
Paul Cohelo, the Brazilian bestselling author, did this pilgrimage in 1986 and subsequently wrote a book about how his experience had been a turning point in his life and resulted in his spiritual awakening. The book was a bestseller and resulted in Brazilians flocking to the camino. The same thing happened when German and Korean celebrities did the pilgrimage and wrote books or spoke extensively about how it had changed them. Germans and Korean pilgrims spiked. The movie, The Way with Martin Sheen, came out in 2010 and that may have something to do with the increase in Americans.
The French drop is interesting. I did Le Puy to Santiago in 2014 and my rough and unscientific estimate was that 80% of the people walking that route were French. Whether they were going all the way to St Jean Pied de Port or doing it in segments over several years, practically no one was planning on going past St Jean. I only counted two.
|Percentages By Gender|
|By Age Group|
|Under 30 Years Old||27%||46%||-41%|
|Between 30 & 60 Years Old||55%||49%||12%|
|Over 60 Years Old||18%||5%||260%|
*In 2006, the breakdown was 0-35, 36-65 and 65+.
More women walking. More older people walking. Although, the latter may be skewed because of the change in how the data was categorized in 2016 vs. 2006. Still . . . Yay, Old People!
|Percentages By Starting Point|
|Sarria, Spain (Camino Francés)||26%||16%||63%|
|St Jean-Pied-de-Port, France (CaminoFrancés)||12%||11%||9%|
|Roncesvalles, Spain (Camino Francés)||2%||9%||-78%|
|Porto, Portugal (Camino Portugues)||6%||1%||500%|
|Tui, Spain (Camino Portugues)||5%||2%||150%|
|Leon, Spain (Camino Francés)||4%||7%||-43%|
Sarria is just over 100 km from Santiago on the Camino Francés, the minimum required for walkers to be eligible for the Compostela. I was there in May, which is not even the peak month, and it felt like the beginning of the Bay to Breakers in San Francisco.
Roncesvalles is on the other side of the Pyrenees Mountain and, depending on your pace, is the 1st or 2nd stop after St Jean Pied de Port. Looks like more people are electing to tackle the Pyrenees.
Well, that’s all she wrote. And completely unrelated to anything in this post, here’s a picture of people dancing in Barcelos.