The Albanian town of Has has recently earned a new nickname which is sure to raise eyebrows in the UK. The area has been dubbed ‘Little London’ thanks to its high number of blatant cultural nods to the country that so many Albanians have now emigrated to.
From the Britain Resto Lounge to Bar London, this north-eastern corner of Albania is obsessed with Blighty.
And no wonder, since 2018 Albanians have crossed the Channel to Britain more than nationals from any other country, with the exception of Iranians, according to the Migration Observatory at Oxford University.
What’s more, according to locals, is that the Has region, from which the town takes its name, has enjoyed economic development thanks to immigrants sending money back from Britain.
Has mayor Liman Morina told AFP from his office, in which British and Albanian flags stand side by side, that four in five of his constituents “survive thanks to the hard and honest work of their relatives in Britain”.
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Klodian Kastrati, a Has-based sociologist, said: “Emigration is an epidemic that affects all young people here contaminated by the idea of leaving for Britain in the hope of creating a better future.”
Has is the former communist state’s poorest region and “emigration is the only real resource to support its inhabitants”, the academic added.
According to Oxford’s Migration Observatory, Albanian Channel crossings spiked during 2022.
The experts said: “There was a sharp rise in Albanian nationals crossing the Channel in 2022, which drove much of the overall increase in arrivals that year.
“Over 12,000 arrived in small boats that year, compared to only 800 making the trip a year earlier.
“In the winter of 2022-3 the number of Albanians crossing in small boats dramatically declined, with only 28 making the crossing in the first quarter of 2023, compared to 235 the year before.”
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The Britain Resto Lounge in Has is complete with an unmistakable red phone box, and on its facade the first ‘i’ in Britain is replaced with Big Ben.
Meanwhile many cars in the area are said to have UK number plates.
Such is the fascination with Britain, there were even reports last year that there was a plan to commission a statue of the late Queen Elizabeth II.
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