I have been watching with interest the number of pilgrims arriving in Santiago as reported daily by the Pilgrim’s Welcome Office of the Cathedral in Santiago. Their website (http://peregrinossantiago.es/eng/), for instance, reported that 1422 pilgrims arrived from all of the various Camino routes on Wednesday, Aug. 20! The size of this number amazes me, I have to admit. But, then I remember that this is August, when most Europeans take their vacations. And, August is always the month with the highest number of pilgrims on the Camino. Earlier in the week the Pilgrim’s Welcome Office reported that about 590 pilgrims had arrived on Tuesday. And, reports on previous days were as high as 1600-1700 pilgrims arriving on one day! Whew! One of the reasons Clint and I decided to start in September was to hopefully avoid the huge numbers of pilgrims that are currently on the Camino.
This led me to write a little about some of the statistics related to pilgrims on the Camino. The Pilgrim’s Welcome Office website and the American Pilgrims on the Camino website (http://www.americanpilgrims.com/) contain copious amounts of statistical data on the Camino. The following is a listing of a few statistics that I found interesting – most of the numbers coming from data collected during 2013 and 2014.
- In 2013 about 220,000 pilgrims arrived in Santiago from all of the various routes and qualified for issuance of a Compostela (official certificate of completion).
- The largest number of pilgrims arrived during the month of August – about 47,000 in total.
- About 154,000 (70%) of the pilgrims arrived by way of the Camino Frances (which is the route Clint and I will be following), although only about 20% of them walked the entire route (790km), starting at St. Jean Pied de Port. (Remember, to qualify for a Compostela, a pilgrim is only required to walk the final 100km of the route.)
- About 53% of the pilgrims were male. The other 47% were female (did I really need to say that?).
- 89,000 (40.5%) of the pilgrims were 30 years old or younger. 110,000 (50%) were between the ages of 30 and 60. The remaining 21,000 (9.5%) were 60 years old or older. (That last group will include Clint and me.)
- 90% of the pilgrims arrived on foot. 9% arrived on bicycle. The remainder arrived by other means.
- 47% of the pilgrims stated that they made their pilgrimage for religious reasons. 45% said their motivation was a combination of religious and cultural considerations. 8% said they hiked the Camino solely for cultural reasons.
- Most of the pilgrims (60%) were from Spain. 17% were from Italy. 11.9% were from the United States. 9% were from Germany.
All of this is interesting. But, it just makes me more anxious to get started and add my experience to the statistics that will be reported next year. Only two more week to go!!!