On this post we are not going to give you advice, nor are we going to present you Ways that will take you to the Apostle’s grave. Instead, we’re going to talk about the figures related to one of the most important pilgrimages in the world. Statistics represent real people and reveal several facts about the Way to Santiago, providing us with a different point of view. Our analysis will be based off a report from 2019, the Informe Estadístico de la Oficina del Peregrino, which includes relevant Way to Santiago statistics.
Way to Santiago statistics: Pilgrims
We have to start talking about the pilgrims, the real Way makers. In the first centuries of the peregrination to Santiago, most of the walkers were men, but nowadays things have changed: pilgrims are almost 51% women, 49% men. This confirms a change in trend that has been observed for years. In total, 347,578 people completed the Way of Saint James, compared to 327,378 in 2018.
Would you be able to guess the average pilgrim age? You might be thinking that young people and teenagers are the first on the list. Well, think again! Turns out that 54,52% of the pilgrims are between 30 and 60 years old. Elderly people are also part of the stadistics. This proves that there is no age limit to do the Way to Santiago. In the case of the elderly, the percentage is more than 18%.
Europe is the predominant continent in the Way to Santiago. Logically, Spain is on the top in number of pilgrims, with 42,11%. The Andalucians are the most involved: more than 33.000 walkers completed the route in 2019. The next four regions in number of pilgrims are Madrid, Comunidad Valenciana, Cataluña, Galicia and Castile La Mancha.
Below Spain, and with an important difference, appear the other countries that contribute with pilgrims. The first ones are European: Italy, Germany, Portugal, France, Ireland and England. This could be due to the geographic proximity and cultural similarities, as the pilgrimage is an element rooted in European culture and religion.
Nevertheless, there is a country that sneaks between the first ones, and it’s Italy, with 8,27% of the total.
This country is followed by Germany, US, Portugal and France.
There are also less known countries like Tonga, Aruba, New Caledonia or Comores. This numbers are proof of the universality of the Way to Compostela, a route that’s become an encounter of cultures and emotions.
Way to Santiago statistics: the Way
Walking, by bike or on horseback? Generally, pilgrims prefer to walk. The difference is important: it suppose the 94,16% of the total percentage, in the statistics of the Oficina del Peregrino. Other recognised means are the sailing and the wheelchair.
Other interesting Way to Santiago stadistics refer to the reasons why people decide to do the pilgrimage. In the graphic, we can see that religious motives are the main ones. The route to Santiago started with the veneration of the saint relics, therefore the essence is still maintained.
Nevertheless, as the Way has gotten more popular throughout the years, active tourism, leisure and new experiences are other reasons that have prompted people to start walking.
From these figures, we may analize the quantity of pilgrims, the route’s afluence or the people nationalities that you can find along the Way. These statistics prove that the jacobean route it’s still one of the most popular vital experiences in the world.
Text: Fátima González-Besada Gómez