The highest number of first-time asylum applicants relative to the population in the EU in 2021 was recorded in Cyprus, with 14,799 first-time applicants per million residents, according to a Eurostat report released on Wednesday.

The figure is several times above the EU average of 1,196 first-time asylum applicants per million population. The lowest figure was recorded in Hungary, as the country only saw four first-time asylum applicants per million residents.

In 2021, a total of 535,000 first-time asylum applicants (non-EU citizens) applied for international protection in EU member states.

The figure recorded was up by 28 per cent compared with 2020.

Cyprus received a total of 13,620 first-time applications — nearly double the 7,065 the previous year. Indicatively, Hungary received 40 – down from 90 in 2020.

The numbers are around the level recorded in 2014, before the peaks of 2015 and 2016 due to war in Syria, the study says.

Around 54 per cent of first-time asylum applicants in 2021 had Asian citizenship, while 25 per cent had African citizenship, 10 per cent European citizenship (non-EU) and 9 per cent American citizenship.

Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis lodged the most applications for asylum, together accounting for almost 40 per cent of all first applicants in EU member states in 2021.

Syria remains the main country of citizenship of asylum seekers in the EU since 2013. In 2021, Syrians lodged 98,320 first-time applications, corresponding to 18 per cent of the total number of first-time applications in the EU.