What kinds of people walk the Camino de Santiago? All kinds of people walk the Camino de Santiago! According to the records of the Pilgrims’ Welcome Office in Santiago de Compostela, 145,877 people completed the pilgrimage in 2011. Of them, 83% arrived on foot, 17% arrived by bicycle and a few hearty souls rode horseback. Pilgrims came from Spain (54%), Germany (10%), Italy (7%), France (5%), Portugal (3%), the US (1.7%), Canada (1.5%), the UK (1.2%) and over 100 other countries. A little over 9% were 18 years of age or younger, 35% were between 19 and 35 years old, 50% were between 36 and 65 years old, and just over 5% were older than 65 years. Finally these 2009 pilgrims included students, salaried employees, technicians, retirees, teachers, blue-collar workers, civil servants, homemakers, artists, farmers, unemployed people and priests – among many others.
Note: These figures are from the American Pilgrims on the Camino. But those are 2011 statistics. Perhaps the big news for those on this side of the water is that American pilgrims were up 90% from 2011 to 2012. Instead of being sideshows on the Camino, as we traditionally have been, we are now part of the main act. And these aren’t ‘ugly Americans abroad’ either, but energetic, curious-minded pilgrims trying to adapt to the main drill. Great stuff.
Bill Walker is the author of ‘The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago (2012)’. He is also the author of Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail (2008), as well as Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail (2010).