The refugee wave sweeping over the European Union has nearly reached last year's total of 662,000, but despite reports that many are families from Syria just 20 percent are from that war-torn nation and most are younger men.

Eurostat, the EU's statistical agency, said that by August, 600,000 had arrived at the union's border seeking asylum, but just 121,500 were from Syria. The rest came from a collection of other countries including Kosovo, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Pew Research Center reviewed the Eurostat data and found that Germany is the overwhelming choice of those fleeing home nations, with 40 percent applying for asylum in Germany.

Pew noted that while the number of Syrians fleeing was lower than the impression given by the media coverage, many from other countries are claiming to be Syrian because people from that nation appear to be on the fast-track for asylum.

"Syrians are the biggest single group of asylum applicants this year, comprising about 20 percent of the total (though some refugees from other countries reportedly are claiming to be Syrian, in the hopes of improving their chances of gaining asylum). More than half the asylum seekers, in fact, are from just five countries: Syria, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Albania and Iraq. Most (72 percent) are male, and more than half (54 percent) are ages 18 to 34; men in that age bracket account for fully 43 percent of asylum applicants," said Pew.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.