As the world grapples with the largest refugee crisis since World War II, the United States has decided to increase the number of Syrian refugees it will admit.
The U.S. resettled more refugees from beyond its borders in 2013, the most recent year for which data were available, than any other country in the world.
But by the end of 2015, the U.S. will trail many European and Middle Eastern nations in admission of refugees per capita -- and is on track to lag behind these nations in absolute numbers as well.
Germany, which is welcoming more refugees than any other European nation, expects to receive some 1 million people seeking asylum by the year's end -- a number equivalent to 1.2 percent of its current population, or about 1 in every 100 people. It is an influx driven largely by people fleeing the conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
It's not yet clear how many of these 1 million people -- many of them already in Germany -- will be granted permanent admission and official status there. For the purposes of this analysis, "permanent admission" refers to the number of people a country officially recognizes as refugees and decides to admit on a permanent basis. In the U.S., the vast majority of refugees are admitted through the State Department's resettlement program for refugees outside of U.S. borders. In light of the European refugee crisis, however, the vast majority of the refugees Germany will take in are asylum-seekers.
If Germany takes in 500,000 of those people per year for "several years," as German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has suggested it could, the country will be absorbing the equivalent of 0.6 percent of its population -- or about 1 in every 160 people.
The 500,000 figure is a conservative estimate, according to an official at the German Embassy in the U.S.; Germany may end up permanently admitting many more. The exact number is a question not just of capacity, but of the new arrivals' eligibility for asylum. In 2014, Germany granted asylum to fewer than half of all applicants, but the official told The Huffington Post that the acceptance rate is likely to be higher this year because of the high number of arrivals from war-torn nations like Syria.
The U.S., for its part, has said it expects to permanently admit a total of 70,000 refugees in fiscal year 2015, which comes to a close at the end of September. (That figure applies to people currently outside the U.S. seeking protection as refugees. To apply for asylum, the refugees must first arrive in the United States.)
The State Department's recent promise to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016 should push this number upward next year.
But even if the U.S. permanently admitted 100,000 refugees per year -- something the White House has said is possible in the coming years -- the country would still be absorbing a group equivalent to only 0.03 percent of its population -- or about 1 in every 3,000 people.
Below, two graphics illustrate the number of refugees the U.S. would need to permanently admit in order to equal the proportion of people Germany expects to admit. The first graphic shows how many refugees the U.S. would permanently admit if it accepted them at Germany's projected proportion of 0.6 percent of the population.
The second graphic shows the number of refugees the United States would need to provide with temporary shelter if the U.S. took in the same proportion of people as Germany expects to, whether they're granted permanent admission or not.
The contrast is even starker between the United States and the countries near Syria that have taken in the lion’s share of Syrian refugees: Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.
Refugees have not necessarily received asylum or otherwise been granted formal permanent status in these countries, but they are being hosted on an indefinite basis. Many of the refugees admitted into these countries live in United Nations-run refugee camps funded by wealthier nations, rather than with the rest of society. But the sheer number of refugees these countries have accepted relative to their populations and resources is still staggering.
Lebanon has the highest number of refugees per capita of any of the Middle Eastern nations absorbing Syrian refugees. Jordan has the second-highest number of refugees per capita.
Here is what it would look like if the U.S. hosted a number of refugees equivalent to the proportion Lebanon and Jordan have taken in, respectively:
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