The number of immigrants entering Germany surged 46 per cent to a record high last year following the mass inflow of refugees and a big jump in people arriving from other parts of the European Union.

Immigration to Europe's biggest economy hit 2.137 million in 2015, which represented an increase of 672,000 compared with 2014, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) said on Thursday.

About 45 per cent of the new arrivals were from the EU, while 13 per cent were citizens of non-EU member European countries, Destatis said.

A further 30 per cent were from Asian states, which includes refugees fleeing war and poverty in nations such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Five per cent came from Africa.

The sharp rise in immigration in part reflects the recent strength of the German economy and the nation's liberal approach to accepting refugees.

Analysts also expect Germany to become a focus of more European migration in the coming years once Britain moves to leave the EU following last month's referendum in the United Kingdom to exit the Brussels-based bloc.

At the same time, the number of people leaving Germany also rose strongly last year with 998,000 people departing the country.

The 9-per-cent increase in those leaving resulted in a net immigration of 1,139,000 people, which was also a record high for the nation, Destatis.

About one million refugees arrived in Germany last year, according to the German government. However, many have also returned to their homelands.

Destatis said net immigration from Syria climbed by 66,000 to 298,000 in 2015 and 80,000 from Afghanistan – a rise of 11,000 from the previous year.

Net immigration from Iraq stood at 60,000 last year and 20,000 from Pakistan.

The release of the German data coincided with the publication of figures underlining the often perilous journeys that refugees take to reach what they hope will be safety in the West such as in northern Europe.

More than 3,600 migrants have died worldwide so far this year while fleeing, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The IOM found that 3,694 are presumed to have either died or gone missing in the first six months of this year.

The figure is an increase of 18 per cent over the same period last year, IOM Director General William Swing told dpa.

The most dangerous route for those fleeing remains the Mediterranean Sea for those heading to Europe, with 2,905 people dying or declared missing by the end of June.

A large majority of them - more than 2,500 - drowned on their way from Africa to Italy, the IOM said.

Swing said he believed the number of victims would rise significantly in the summer months.

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