Camino Pilgrims Come from Many Nations

Fig. 1 - All nationalities who received compostelas -- the Spaniards are by far the greatest numbers.

Here’s the last of my installments on the Cathedral of Santiago’s pilgrim statistics. As you will recall, the Cathedral publishes online stats about pilgrims who’ve received their compostelas during the prior month. The statistics includes some revealing details. The chart in Fig. 1 shows the percentage of Spanish pilgrims each year since 2005. In most years Spaniards comprise more than 45% of all pilgrims. In the Holy Year of 2010 this number increased to over 60%, while pushing down the percentage of non-Spaniards who walked that year. The next highest group is “Other” (not listed on the legend) which comprises a variety of the less-than 10 ten nationalities. The largest single nationality below that is Germans.

Fig. 2 - Non-Spanish nationalities. "Other" is the largest percentage, with Germans the largest single non-Spanish nationality.

Fig. 2 spells out the non-Spanish numbers a little better. “Other” is still the largest group, meaning these nationalities include too many individual countries to make the top groupings, but countries when combined equal a large percentage. The largest groupings of these nationalities are from Japan, Korea, Australia, Mexico, Poland, and Belgium.

The largest single non-Spanish nationality represented on the camino is German. In fact, the top four non-Spanish nationalities are pretty clear in the stats — Germany, Italy, France and Portugal, in that order. Well below these nationalities are a third tier: USA, UK, Canada, Brazil, Ireland, and Holland. So the profile of the “average” pilgrim is pretty much a Western European, with folk from other continents a much smaller percentage of the total.

Not shown is another interesting stat: Spanish pilgrims flood the camino in July and August, when they comprise roughly 2/3 of all pilgrims. The percentages of non-Spanish pilgrims, particularly German, nearly double in the shoulder months of May/June and September/October.

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