30 Years of Pilgrim Statistics

Every January, the Oficina de Acogida de Peregrinos (Pilgrims’ Welcome Office) in Santiago, Spain and the American Pilgrims on the Camino (APOC) publish the pilgrim statistics for the previous year. Among the various data is a chart showing numbers of pilgrims receiving Compostelas for each year dating back to 1986. When I first started to learn about the Camino, I was intrigued by the dramatic spikes for some years.


The Holy Year Factor

I learned that these spikes happen during Holy Years, when more people want to walk through the Puerta Santa (Holy Doors). I was a little surprised when I saw that the 2016 line was not off the charts like the spikes for previous Holy Years. But then again, 2016 was not an average Holy Year. It was an extraordinary announcement (and a surprise to some) that Pope Francis declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016.  Instead of a spike, the chart shows the upward trend for 2016 was more typical of the Camino becoming more popular year after year. I suspect that the majority of those who did a Camino in 2016 did not do it because it was a Holy Year, as there are motivations beyond religious.  Here’s a closer look at the numbers with the traditional Holy Years highlighted in red. 2016statsholyyears

View Compostelas  by Year PDF.

I heard that the Holy Years could be extremely crowded on the Camino for the guarantee of Plenary Indulgence. The threat of crowds did not stop me, for I was determined to walk my first Camino in 2016. In fact, it ended up enhancing my spiritual experience on the Camino.  I wrote more about what the Holy Year of Mercy meant to me in this post.  For now, let’s get back to the numbers.

My 2016 Camino CompostelaI was one of those 277,913 pilgrims who walked at least 100 km to receive a Compostela certificate in 2016. Here is a photo of me in the pilgrim office in Santiago proudly holding my certificate and credential. Oh, how I miss that post-Camino glow!

American Pilgrims on the Camino has kept track of Credentials issued since 2007.2016apocstats

You can see the dramatic uptick in 2011 thanks to the movie, The Way, starring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez.

Personal Motivations

The personal motivations in 2016 were 44% religious, 48% spiritual/cultural, and 8% cultural.


When I was at the pilgrim office getting my Compostela, the motivation options on the official entry log were Religious / Religious or Spiritual / Tourist or Sport. They also track the age of pilgrims, their professions, and if they completed the Camino on foot, bike or horse.



Average Age of Pilgrims


See Compostela by Age PDF.

Nationalities of Pilgrims

In 2016, the majority of pilgrims on the Camino were Spanish, about 124,401  (45% of the total); The greatest number of pilgrims came from the communities of Andalusia with 24,995 (20%); Madrid with 23,068 (19%); Valencian Community with 14,584 (12%); Catalonia with 13,368 (11%); Galicia with 8,425 (7%); Castilla León with 7,269 (6%); Castilla la Mancha with 6,587 (5%); Basque Country with 4,465 (4%).


Countries outside of Spain totaled 153,831 pilgrims (55%). The country with the largest number of pilgrims is Italy, with 23,973 (16%). Following are Germany, with 21,247 (14%); United States, with 15,248 (10%); Portugal, with 13,258 (9%); France, with 8,880 (6%); Ireland, with 6,542 (4%); United Kingdom, with 6,062 (4%); and Korea, with 4,544 (3%).


Camino Routes

The chart below shows the top five most popular routes over the past decade. Notice that the Camino Francés slightly declined while the Camino Portugués increased last year.

View full PDF.

Learn more about selecting a Camino route and read actual route reports.

Compostelas by Month

Below is the chart of Compostelas by month from the Pilgrim Office in Santiago.


Here’s the APOC chart of Credentials issued by month.


I realize this is a chart for Credentials issued by Camino start date, but apparently we Americans like to stay away from the heat and crowds of the Camino in July and August!

Sex of Pilgrims

Let’s talk about sex.  Of the pilgrims who received Compostelas in 2016, 48% were women and 52% were men. 


The gap has narrowed over the years, as the chart below shows. Single ladies, take note! 😉sexchart

View Compostelas by Sex PDF.

I found these stats fascinating and wonder how the numbers will change in the coming years. It just goes to show that the Camino is not just a fad! I can geek out on pilgrim statistics for hours, but for a deeper dive on Camino statistics, visit  oficinadelperegrino.com/en/statistics/. You can generate stats for any particular month or the entire year. Take a look at the professions listed and let me know if that gave you a laugh too. View more statistics at www.americanpilgrims.org/statisics.

Peregrinos, did the 2016 stats surprise you?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Buen Camino!

16 thoughts on “30 Years of Pilgrim Statistics

  1. Hi L, That’s a stunning number of people and a wide variety of inspiration for the Camino. I’ve got to find the movie on Netflix:-} Thanks for the fascinating link. Todo lo mejor, Andy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Laurie, very interesting as always. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this. I was particularly intrigued by the Year of Mercy impact on the Camino and – yes – a little bit surprised that the Year of Mercy did not generate a spike in pilgrim numbers. There again 2016 has also been a year of political turmoil and upheaval the world over …. Life’s a journey; keep walking; keep smiling; keep safe and God Bless. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s available on the web. I think last year about 32 k folks (out of 300k + compestellas) went from SJPDP to Santiago. Probably ~ 2-300/day.


  3. Reblogged this on cactuscanyonceramics and commented:
    Laurie’s blog “The Camino Provides”, offers a lot of very good information about the Camino de Santiago (Way of Saint James). Be sure and check it out if you are looking for information. The following article provides some great statistics regarding pilgrims walking the Way.


  4. 2016 was only a Holy year for Pilgrimage to Rome and did not apply to Santiago (although Holy Doors were opened all around the world)


  5. Pingback: Autumnal wonder from Caldas de Reis to A Picarana. – Wayfaring Sarah

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  7. Hello Laurie,
    My name is Tiffany Trotman and I am a Spanish Professor from the University of Otago in New Zealand. I am currently editing a publication on the representation of the Camino in contemporary culture. I wanted to request permission from you to reproduce a graph of yours on the blog. The specific graph is the last 30 years bar-graph of Compostelas issued. Would you be willing to grant me permission to use this image? Below is the link to the article.
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Kind Regards,
    Tiffany Trotman


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