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London ( ) is the capital of Englandmarker and the United Kingdom. A major settlement for two millennia, its history goes back to its founding by the Romans, who called it Londiniummarker. London's core, the ancient City of Londonmarker, the 'square mile', retains its mediaeval boundaries. Since at least the nineteenth century, the name "London" has also referred to the metropolis developed around it. Today, the bulk of this conurbation forms the London region and the Greater Londonmarker administrative area, with its own elected mayor and assembly.

London is a major global city and one of the world's largest financial centres. Central London is home to the headquarters of most of the UK's top 100 listed companies (the FTSE 100) and more than 100 of Europe's 500 largest. London's influence in politics, finance, education, entertainment, media, fashion, the arts and culture in general contributes to its global position. It is a major tourist destination for both domestic and overseas visitors. London hosted the 1908marker and 1948 Summer Olympics and will host the 2012 Summer Olympics. London contains four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of Londonmarker; the historic settlement of Greenwichmarker; the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kewmarker; and the site comprising the Palace of Westminstermarker, Westminster Abbeymarker and St. Margaret's Churchmarker.

London has a diverse range of peoples, cultures, and religions, and more than 300 languages are spoken within its boundaries. In July 2007 it had an official population of 7,556,900 within the boundaries of Greater Londonmarker, making it the most populous municipality in the European Union. The Greater London Urban Areamarker (the second largest in the EU) has a population of 8,278,251. while the metropolitan area (the largest in the EU) has an estimated total population of between 12 million and 14 million. The London Underground network, administered by Transport for London, is the most extensive underground railway network in the world, London Heathrow Airportmarker is the world's busiest airport by number of international passengers and the airspace is the busiest of any urban centre in the world. International Passenger Traffic, Airports Council International



The etymology of London is uncertain. It is an ancient name and can be found in sources from the 2nd century. It is recorded c. 121 as Londiniummarker, which points to Romano-British origin. The earliest attempted explanation, now disregarded, is attributed to Geoffrey of Monmouth in Historia Regum Britanniae. The name is described as originating from King Lud, who had allegedly taken over the city and named it Kaerlud. From 1899 it was commonly accepted that the name was of Celtic origin and meant place belonging to a man called *Londinos; this explanation has since been rejected. Richard Coates put forward an explanation in 1998 that it is derived from the pre-Celtic Old European *(p)lowonida, meaning 'river too wide to ford', and suggested that this was a name given to the part of the River Thames which flows through London; from this, the settlement gained the Celtic form of its name, *Lowonidonjon. Until 1889 the name officially only applied to the City of Londonmarker, however since then it has also referred to the County of London and now Greater Londonmarker.

Prehistory and antiquity

Although there is evidence of scattered Brythonic settlements in the area, the first major settlement was founded by the Romans in 43 AD. This lasted for just seventeen years and around 61, the Iceni tribe led by Queen Boudica stormed it, burning it to the ground. The next, heavily planned incarnation of the city prospered and superseded Colchestermarker as the capital of the Roman province of Britannia in 100. At its height during the 2nd century, Roman London had a population of around 60,000. By the seventh century, the Anglo-Saxons had created a new settlement called Lundenwic approximately upstream from the old Roman city, around what is now Covent Gardenmarker. It is likely that there was a harbour at the mouth of the River Fleetmarker for fishing and trading, and this trading grew until the city was overcome by the Vikings and forced to relocate the east, back to the location of the Roman Londinium, in order to use its walls for protection. Viking attacks continued to increase, until 886 when Alfred the Great recaptured London and made peace with the Danish leader, Guthrum. The original Saxon city of Lundenwic became Ealdwic ("old city"), a name surviving to the present day as Aldwychmarker, which is in the modern City of Westminstermarker.

Middle Ages

Canute took control of the English throne in 1016, controlling the city and country until 1035, when his death resulted in a reversion to Saxon control under his pious stepson Edward the Confessor, who re-founded Westminster Abbeymarker and the adjacent Palace of Westminstermarker. By this time, London had become the largest and most prosperous city in England, although the official seat of government was still at Winchestermarker. Following a victory at the Battle of Hastingsmarker, William the Conqueror, the then Duke of Normandy, was crowned King of England in the newly finished Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066.citizens of London special privileges, while building what is now known as the Tower of Londonmarker, in the south-east corner of the city, to keep them under control.

In 1097, William II began the building of Westminster Hall, close by the abbey of the same name. The hall became the basis of a new Palace of Westminstermarker, the prime royal residence throughout the Middle Ages. Westminster became the seat of the royal court and government, while its distinct neighbour, the City of London, was a centre of trade and commerce and flourished under its own unique administration, the Corporation of London. In 1100 its population was around 18,000; by 1300 it had grown to nearly 100,000. There was an increasing population of Jews, until the edict of King Edward I in 1290, expelled them from England. Disaster struck during the Black Death in the mid-14th century, when London lost nearly a third of its population. Apart from the invasion during the Peasants' Revolt in 1381, London remained relatively untouched by the various civil wars during the Middle Ages.

Early modern

During the Tudor period the Reformation produced a gradual shift to Protestantism, with much of London passing from church to private ownership. Mercantilism grew and monopoly trading companies such as the British East India Company were established, with trade expanding to the New World. London became the principal North Sea port, with migrants arriving from England and abroad. The population rose from an estimated 50,000 in 1530 to about 225,000 in 1605. In the 16th century William Shakespeare and his contemporaries lived in London at a time of hostility to the development of the theatre. By the end of the Tudor period in 1603, London was still very compact. There was an assassination attempt on James I in Westminster, through the Gunpowder Plot on 5 November 1605. London was plagued by disease in the early 17th century, "A List of National Epidemics of Plague in England 1348-1665" culminating in the Great Plague of 1665–1666, which killed up to 100,000 people or a fifth of the population. Story of the plague. Channel 4. The Great Fire of Londonmarker broke out in City and quickly swept through the wooden buildings. Rebuilding took over ten years and was supervised by Robert Hooke as Surveyor of London.The curious life of Robert Hooke, the man who measured London by Lisa Jardine In 1708 Christopher Wren's masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedralmarker was completed. During the Georgian era new districts such as Mayfairmarker were formed in the west; and new bridges over the Thames encouraged the development in South Londonmarker. In the east, the Port of London expanded downstream. In 1762 George III acquired Buckingham Housemarker and it was enlarged over the next 75 years. During the 18th century, London was dogged by crime and the Bow Street Runners were established in 1750 as a professional police force. The coffee house became a popular place to debate ideas, with growing literacy and the development of the printing press making news widely available; and Fleet Streetmarker became the centre of the British press.

Late modern and contemporary

London was the world's largest city from about 1831 to 1925. Rising traffic congestion led to the creation of the world's first local urban rail network. The Metropolitan Board of Works oversaw infrastructure expansion. It was replaced in 1889 by the London County Council, London's first elected city-wide administration. The Blitz and other bombing by the German Luftwaffe during World War II killed over 30,000 Londoners and destroyed large tracts of housing and other buildings across London. Immediately after the war, the 1948 Summer Olympics were held at the original Wembley Stadiummarker, at a time when the city had barely recovered from the war. In 1951 the Festival of Britain was held on the South Bank. The Great Smog of 1952 led to the Clean Air Act 1956, which ended the "pea souper" fogs for which London had been notorious. From the 1950s onwards London became home to a large number of immigrants, largely from Commonwealth countries such as Jamaicamarker, India, Bangladeshmarker Pakistanmarker, making London one of the most diverse cities in Europe.

Starting in the mid-1960s London became a centre for the worldwide youth culture, exemplified by the Swinging London subculture associated with Carnaby Streetmarker. The role of trendsetter was revived during the Punk era. In 1965 London's political boundaries were expanded to take into account the growth of the urban area and a new Greater London Council was created. During The Troubles in Northern Irelandmarker, London was subjected to terrorist attacks by the Provisional IRA. Racial inequality was highlighted by the 1981 Brixton riotmarker. Greater London's population declined steadily in the decades after World War II, from an estimated peak of 8.6 million in 1939 to around 6.8 million in the 1980s. The principal ports for London moved to the downstream to Felixstowemarker and Tilburymarker, with the London Docklandsmarker area becoming a focus for regeneration. The Thames Barriermarker was completed in the 1980s to protect London against tidal surges from the North Seamarker. The Greater London Council was abolished in 1986, which left London as the only large metropolis in the world without a central administration. In 2000, London-wide government was restored, with the creation of the Greater London Authority. To celebrate the start of the 21st century, the Millennium Domemarker and London Eyemarker were constructed. On 7 July 2005, several London Underground trains and a bus were bombed in a series of terrorist attacks.


Local government

The administration of London is formed of two tiers—a city-wide, strategic tier and a local tier. City-wide administration is coordinated by the Greater London Authority, while local administration is carried out by 33 smaller authorities. The local authorities are the councils of the 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation. They are responsible for most local services, such as local planning, schools, social services, local roads and refuse collection. Certain functions, such as waste management, a provided through joint arrangements. Policing in Greater London, with the exception of the City of Londonmarker, is provided by the Metropolitan Police Service, overseen by the Metropolitan Police Authority. The City of London has its own police force – the City of London Police. The British Transport Police are responsible for police services on National Rail and London Underground services in the capital.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) consists of two elected parts; the Mayor of London, who has executive powers, and the London Assembly, who scrutinise the mayor's decisions and can accept or reject his budget proposals each year. The headquarters of the GLA is City Hallmarker, Southwark; the current mayor is Boris Johnson. The mayor's statutory planning strategy is published as the London Plan, which as of mid-2009 is being revised, for final publication in 2011. The London Fire Brigademarker is the statutory fire and rescue service for Greater London. It is run by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and is the third-largest fire service in the world. National Health Service ambulance services are provided by the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust, the largest free at the point of use emergency ambulance service in the world. Her Majesty's Coastguard and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution operate on the River Thames.

National government

London is an important city because the Government of the United Kingdom is located aroundthe Palace of Westminster. Many government departments are located close to Parliament, particularly along Whitehallmarker, including the Prime Minister's residence at 10 Downing Streetmarker. The British Parliament is often referred to as the "Mother of Parliaments" (although this sobriquet was first applied to England itself by John Bright) because it has been the model for most other parliamentary systems, and its Acts have created many other parliaments.



Map of Central London
Greater Londonmarker is the top-level administrative subdivision covering London. The small, ancient City of Londonmarker at its core once contained the whole settlement, but as the urban area grew the City Corporation resisted attempts to amalgamate it with its suburbs, causing "London" to be defined in a number ways for different purposes; and the situation was once open to legal debate. Forty percent of Greater London is covered by the London postal district, within which 'LONDON' forms part of postal addresses. The London telephone area code covers a larger area, similar in size to Greater London, although some outer districts are omitted and some places just outside are included. The area within the orbital M25 motorwaymarker is sometimes used to define the "London area" and the Greater London boundary has been aligned to it in places. Outward urban expansion is now prevented by a metropolitan green belt, although the built-up area extends beyond the boundary in places, resulting in a separately-defined Greater London Urban Areamarker. Beyond this is the vast London commuter belt. Greater London is split for some purposes into Inner London and Outer London. The city is split by the River Thames into Northmarker and Southmarker, with an informal Central London area in its interior. The coordinates of the nominal centre of London, traditionally considered to be the original Eleanor Cross at Charing Crossmarker near the junction of Trafalgar Squaremarker and Whitehallmarker, are approximately .


Within London, both the City of Londonmarker and the City of Westminstermarker have City status and both the City of London and the remainder of Greater London are the ceremonial counties. The current area of Greater London has incorporated areas that were once part of the counties of Middlesexmarker, Kentmarker, Surreymarker, Essex and Hertfordshiremarker. London's status as the capital of the England, and later the United Kingdom, has never been granted or confirmed officially—by statute or in written form. Its position was formed through constitutional convention, making its status as de facto capital a part of the UK's unwritten constitution. The capital of England was moved to London from Winchestermarker as the Palace of Westminstermarker developed in the 12th and 13th centuries to become the permanent location of the royal court, and thus the political capital of the nation. More recently, Greater London has been defined as a region of England and in this context known as London.


Greater London covers an area of . Its primary geographical feature is the Thames, a navigable river which crosses the city from the south-west to the east. The Thames Valleymarker is a floodplain surrounded by gently rolling hills including Parliament Hillmarker, Addington Hillsmarker, and Primrose Hillmarker. The Thames was once a much broader, shallower river with extensive marshlands; at high tide, its shores reached five times their present width. Since the Victorian era it has been extensively embankedmarker, and many of its London tributaries now flow underground. The Thames is a tidal river, and London is vulnerable to flooding. The threat has increased over time due to a slow but continuous rise in high water level by the slow 'tilting' of Britain (up in the north and down in the south) caused by post-glacial rebound. In 1974, a decade of work began on the construction of the Thames Barriermarker across the Thames at Woolwichmarker to deal with this threat. While the barrier is expected to function as designed until roughly 2070, concepts for its future enlargement or redesign are already being discussed.


London has a temperate marine climate (Koppen climate classification Cfb), like much of the British Isles, so the city rarely sees extremely high or low temperatures. Summers are warm with average high temperatures of – and lows of – . But temperatures can exceed on many days, and in almost every year they exceed on some days. The highest temperature ever recorded was on 10 August 2003. Winters in London are chilly, but rarely below freezing with daytime highs around – , while spring has mild days and cool evenings. The lowest ever recorded temperature in recent years was on 10 January 1982. Autumn is usually mild but often unsettled as colder air from the north and warmer air from the south meet. London is a relatively dry city with regular but generally light precipitation throughout the year, with an average of every year. Snow is relatively uncommon, particularly because heat from the urban area can make London up to 5 °C (9 °F) warmer than the surrounding areas in winter. Some snowfall, however, is usually seen up to a few times a year. The snowfall of February 2009 was the heaviest London had seen for 18 years.

London is in USDAmarker Hardiness zone 9, and AHS Heat Zone 2. Although extreme weather does not happen very often, deep depressions have been known to pass through like the Great Storm of 1987marker. Tornados are rare, but the Kensal Greenmarker area of the city was hit by the 2006 London tornado causing £10 million of damage and injuring 6 people. In the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, London was noted for its dense fogs and smogs. Following the deadly Great Smog of 1952, the Clean Air Act 1956 was passed, leading to the decline of such severe pollution in the capital.


The City of London and the 32 London boroughs
    London's vast urban area is often described using a set of district names, such as Bloomsburymarker, Mayfairmarker, Wembleymarker and Whitechapelmarker. These are either informal designations, reflect the names of villages that have been absorbed by sprawl, or are superseded administrative units such as parishes or former boroughs. Such names have remained in use through tradition, each referring to a local area with its own distinctive character, but without current official boundaries. Since 1965 Greater London has been divided into 32 London boroughs in addition to the ancient City of London. The City of London is the main financial district and Canary Wharfmarker has recently developed into a new financial and commercial hub, in the Docklandsmarker to the east.

    The West Endmarker is London's main entertainment and shopping district, attracting tourists. West Londonmarker includes expensive residential areas where properties can sell for tens of millions of pounds. The average price for properties in Kensington and Chelsea is £894,000 with similar average outlay in most of Central London. The East Endmarker is the area closest to the original Port of Londonmarker, known for its high immigrant population, as well as for being one of the poorest areas in London. The surrounding East Londonmarker area saw much of London's early industrial development; now, brownfield sites throughout the area are being redeveloped as part of the Thames Gatewaymarker including the London Riverside and Lower Lea Valleymarker, which is being developed into the Olympic Parkmarker for the 2012 Olympicsmarker.


    London's buildings are too diverse to be characterised by any particular architectural style, being built over a long period of time. Notable recent buildings are the 1980s skyscraper Tower 42marker, the Lloyd's buildingmarker with services running along the outside of the structure, and the 2004 Swiss Re buildingmarker, known as the "Gherkin". London's generally low-rise nature makes these skyscrapers and others such as One Canada Squaremarker and its neighbours at Canary Wharfmarker and the BT Towermarker in Fitzroviamarker very noticeable from a distance. High-rise development is restricted at certain sites if it would obstruct protected views of St. Paul's Cathedralmarker. Nevertheless, there are plans for more skyscrapers in central London (see Tall buildings in London), including the 72-story "Shard of Glass"marker, which will be one of the tallest buildings in Europe. Older buildings are mainly brick built, most commonly the yellow London stock brick or a warm orange-red variety, often decorated with carvings and white plaster mouldings. Many grand houses and public buildings, such as the National Gallerymarker, are constructed from Portland stone. Some areas of the city, particularly those just west of the centre, are characterised by white stucco or whitewashed buildings. Few structures pre-date the Great Firemarker of 1666, except for a few trace Roman remains, the Tower of Londonmarker and a few scattered Tudor survivors in the City. Wren's late 17th century churches and the financial institutions of the 18th and 19th century such as the Royal Exchangemarker and the Bank of Englandmarker, to the early 20th century Old Baileymarker and the 1960s Barbican Estatemarker form part of the varied architectural heritage.
    The disused, but soon to be rejuvenated, 1939 Battersea Power Stationmarker by the river in the south-west is a local landmark, while some railway termini are excellent examples of Victorian architecture, most notably St Pancrasmarker and Paddingtonmarker. The density of London varies, with high employment density in the central area, high residential densities in inner London and lower densities in the suburbs. In the dense areas, most of the concentration is achieved with medium- and high-rise buildings. London's skyscrapers such as "Gherkin"marker, Tower 42marker, the Broadgate Towermarker and One Canada Squaremarker are usually found in the two financial districts, the City of Londonmarker and Canary Wharfmarker. Other notable modern buildings include City Hallmarker in Southwarkmarker with its distinctive oval shape, and the British Librarymarker in Somers Townmarker/Kings Crossmarker. What was formerly the Millennium Domemarker, located by the Thames to the east of Canary Wharf, is now used as an entertainment venue known as The O2marker. The Monumentmarker in the City of London provides views of the surrounding area while commemorating the Great Fire of Londonmarker, which originated nearby. Marble Archmarker and Wellington Archmarker, at the north and south ends of Park Lanemarker respectively, have royal connections, as do the Albert Memorialmarker and Royal Albert Hallmarker in Kensingtonmarker. Nelson's Columnmarker is a nationally recognised monument in Trafalgar Squaremarker, one of the focal points of the centre.

    Parks and gardens

    The largest parks in the central area of London are the Royal Parksmarker of Hyde Parkmarker, its neighbour Kensington Gardensmarker at the western edge of central London and Regent's Parkmarker on the northern edge. Regent's Park contains London Zoomarker, the world's oldest scientific zoo, and is located near the tourist attraction of Madame Tussaudsmarker Wax Museum. Closer to central London are the smaller Royal Parks of Green Parkmarker and St. James's Parkmarker. Hyde Park in particular is popular for sports and sometimes hosts open-air concerts. A number of large parks lie outside the city centre, including the remaining Royal Parks of Greenwich Parkmarker to the south-east and Bushy Parkmarker and Richmond Parkmarker to the south-west, as well as Victoria Park, East Londonmarker to the east. Primrose Hillmarker to the north of Regent's Park is a popular spot to view the city skyline. Some more informal, semi-natural open spaces also exist, including the Hampstead Heathmarker of North Londonmarker. This incorporates Kenwood Housemarker, the former stately home and a popular location in the summer months where classical musical concerts are held by the lake, attracting thousands of people every weekend to enjoy the music, scenery and fireworks.


    With increasing industrialisation, London's population grew rapidly throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, and it was for some time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the most populous city in the world until overtaken by New York in 1925. Its population peaked at 8,615,245 in 1939 immediately before the outbreak of World War 2. There were an estimated 7,556,900 official residents in Greater Londonmarker as of mid-2007. However, London's continuous urban area extends beyond the borders of Greater London and was home to 8,278,251 people in 2001, while its wider metropolitan area has a population of between 12 and 14 million depending on the definition used. According to Eurostat, London is the most populous city and metropolitan area of the European Union and the second most populous in Europe (or third if Istanbulmarker is included). During the period 1991–2001 a net 726,000 immigrants arrived in London.

    The region covers an area of . The population density is , more than ten times that of any other British region. In terms of population, London is the 25th largest city and the 18th largest metropolitan region in the world. It is also ranked 4th in the world in number of billionaires (United States Dollars) residing in the city. London ranks as one of the most expensive cities in the world, alongside Tokyo and Moscow.

    Ethnic groups

    According to the Office for National Statistics, based on 2006 estimates, 69.4 per cent of the 7.5 million inhabitants of London were White, with 58 per cent White British, 2.5 per cent White Irish and 8.9 per cent classified as Other White. Some 13.1 per cent are of South Asian descent, with Indians making up 6.5 per cent of London's population, followed by Bangladeshis and Pakistanis at 2.3 per cent each. 2 per cent are categorised as "Other Asian". 10.7 per cent of London's population are Black, with around 5.5 per cent being Black African, 4.3 per cent as Black Caribbean and 0.7 per cent as "Other Black". 3.5 per cent of Londoners are of mixed race; 1.5 per cent are Chinese; and 1.9 per cent belong to another ethnic group. As of 2008, 40% of London's total population was from an ethnic minority group. London’s black and minority communities helped to have a greater voice. Across London, Black and Asian children outnumber White British children by about six to four. In January 2005, a survey of London's ethnic and religious diversity claimed that there were more than 300 languages spoken and more than 50 non-indigenous communities which have a population of more than 10,000 in London. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that, as of 2006, London's foreign-born population is 2,288,000 (31%), up from 1,630,000 in 1997. The 2001 census showed that 27.1% of Greater Londonmarker's population were born outside the UK, and a slightly higher proportion were classed as non-white. The table to the right shows the 'Country of Birth' of London residents in 2001, the date of the last UK Census. (Top 21). A portion of the German-born population are likely to be British nationals born to parents serving in the British Armed Forces in Germany.


    The majority of Londoners – 58.2% – identify themselves as Christians. This is followed by those of no religion (15.8%), Muslims (8.5%), Hindus (4.1%), Jews (2.1%), Sikhs (1.5%), Buddhists (0.8%), Pagans/Wiccans (0.3%) and other (0.2%), though 8.7% of people did not answer this question in the 2001 Census. London has traditionally been dominated by Christianity, and has a large number of churches, particularly in the City of London. The well-known St Paul's Cathedralmarker in the City and Southwark Cathedralmarker south of the river are Anglican administrative centres, while the Archbishop of Canterbury, principal bishop of the Church of England and worldwide Anglican Communion, has his main residence at Lambeth Palacemarker in the London Borough of Lambethmarker. Important national and royal ceremonies are shared between St Paul's and Westminster Abbey. The Abbey is not to be confused with nearby Westminster Cathedralmarker, which is the largest Roman Catholic cathedral in England and Wales. Despite the prevalence of Anglican churches, observance is very low within the Anglican denomination. Church attendance continues on a long, slow, steady decline, according to Church of England statistics.

    London is also home to sizeable Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and Jewish communities. Many Muslims live in Tower Hamletsmarker and Newhammarker; the most important Muslim edifice is London Central Mosquemarker on the edge of Regent's Parkmarker. Following the oil boom, increasing numbers of wealthy Middle-Eastern Muslims have based themselves around Mayfairmarker and Knightsbridgemarker in West London. The $300 billion Arabs are cominghttp://,,106930,00.html+arabs+in+london&cd=13&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk London's large Hindu community is found in the north-western boroughs of Harrowmarker and Brentmarker, the latter of which is home to one of Europe's largest Hindu temples, Neasden Templemarker. Sikh communities are located in East and West London, which is also home to the largest Sikh temple in the world outside India. The majority of British Jews live in London, with significant Jewish communities in Stamford Hillmarker, Stanmoremarker, Golders Greenmarker, Hampsteadmarker, Hendonmarker, and Edgwaremarker in North Londonmarker. Stanmore and Canons Park Synagoguemarker has the largest membership of any single Orthodox synagogue in the whole of Europe, overtaking Ilfordmarker synagogue (also in London) in 1998. The community set up the London Jewish Forum in 2007 in response to the growing significance of devolved London Government.


    London is a major centre for international business and commerce and is one of three "command centres" for the world economy, with New York City and Tokyo. According to 2005 estimates by the PricewaterhouseCoopersmarker accounting firm, London has the 6th largest city economy in the world after Tokyo, New York City, Los Angelesmarker, Chicagomarker, and Paris. London generates approximately 20% of the UK's GDP (or $446 billion in 2005); while the economy of the London metropolitan areathe second largest in Europe—generates approximately 30% of the UK's GDP (or an estimated $669 billion in 2005). London is one of the pre-eminent financial centres of the world and vies with New York City as the most important location for international finance. London's largest industry is finance, and its financial exports make it a large contributor to the UK's balance of payments. Around 325,000 people were employed in financial services in London until mid-2007. London has over 480 overseas banks, more than any other city in the world. Due to its prominent global role, London's economy has been affected by the global financial crisis of 2008–2009. The City of London estimates that 70,000 jobs in finance will be cut within a year.

    More than half of the UK's top 100 listed companies (the FTSE 100) and over 100 of Europe's 500 largest companies are headquartered in central London. Over 70% of the FTSE 100 are located within London's metropolitan area, and 75% of Fortune 500 companies have offices in London. The City of Londonmarker is home to the Bank of Englandmarker, London Stock Exchange, and Lloyds of Londonmarker insurance market. Along with professional services, media companies are concentrated in London and the media distribution industry is London's second most competitive sector. The BBC is a significant employer, while other broadcasters also have headquarters around the city. Many national newspapers are edited in London. Tourism is one of London's prime industries and employs the equivalent of 350,000 full-time workers in London in 2003, while annual expenditure by tourists is around £15 billion." ", Visit London. Retrieved on 3 June 2006. A study carried out by Euromonitor in October 2007 places London at first place out of 150 of the world's most popular cities, attracting 15.6 million international tourists in 2006. London attracts 27 million overnight-stay visitors every year. The Port of Londonmarker is the second-largest in the United Kingdom, handling 53 million tonnes of cargo each year.


    Transport is one of the four main areas of policy administered by the Mayor of London, however the mayor's financial control does not extend to the longer distance rail network that enters London. In 2007 he assumed responsibility for some local lines, which now form the London Overground network, adding to the existing responsibility for the London Underground, trams and buses. The public transport network is administered by Transport for London (TfL) and is one of the most extensive in the world. Cycling is an increasingly popular way to get around London. The London Cycling Campaign lobbies for better provision. The lines that formed the London Underground, as well as trams and buses, became part of an integrated transport system in 1933 when the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) or London Transport was created. Transport for London (TfL), is now the statutory corporation responsible for most aspects of the transport system in Greater London, and is run by a board and a commissioner appointed by the Mayor of London.


    The London Underground — all of which is now commonly referred to as The Tube, though originally this designation referred only to the deep-level lines, as distinct from the sub-surface lines — is one of the oldest, longest, and most expansive metro systems in the world, dating from 1863. The system serves 270 stations and was formed from several private companies, including the world's first underground electric line, the City and South London Railway. Over three million journeys a day are made on the Underground network, over 1 billion journeys each year. [2581] Tube breaks record for passenger numbers An investment programme is attempting to address congestion and reliability problems, including £7 billion (€10 billion) of improvements planned for the Olympics. London has been commended as the city with the best public transport. The Docklands Light Railway is a second, more local metro system using smaller and lighter tram-type vehicles, which opened in 1987, serving Docklandsmarker and Greenwich.

    There is an extensive above-ground suburban railway network, particularly in South London, which has fewer Underground lines. London houses Britain's busiest station - Waterloomarker with over 177 millon people using the interchange station each year which has services to South West London and parts of southern and western England. Most rail lines terminate around the centre of London, running into fourteen terminal stations with the exception of the Thameslink trains connecting Bedfordmarker in the north and Brightonmarker in the south via Lutonmarker and Gatwickmarker Airports. Since 2007 High-speed Eurostar trains link St Pancras Internationalmarker with Lillemarker, Paris, and Brusselsmarker. Journey times to Paris and Brussels of 2h 15 and 1h 51 respectively make London closer to continental Europe than the rest of Britain by virtue of the High Speed 1 rail link to the Channel Tunnelmarker while the first high speed domestic trains started in June 2009 linking Kentmarker to London.

    Buses and trams

    London's bus network is one of the largest in the world, running 24 hours a day, with 8,000 buses, 700 bus routes, and over 6 million passenger journeys made every weekday. In 2003, the network's ridership was estimated at over 1.5 billion passenger trips per annum, more than the Underground. Around £850 million is taken in revenue each year. London has the largest wheelchair accessible network in the world and, from the 3rd quarter of 2007, became more accessible to hearing and visually impaired passengers as audio-visual announcements were introduced. The distinctive red double-decker buses are internationally recognised, and are a trademark of London transport along with black cabs and the Tube. London has a modern tram network, known as Tramlinkmarker, based around Croydonmarker in South London. The network has 39 stops, 3 routes and carried 26.5 million people in 2008. Since June 2008 Transport for London has completely owned tramlink and plans to spend £54m until 2015 on maintenance, renewals, upgrades and capacity enhancements. Since April 2009 all trams have now been refurbished. Transport for London, Tramlink Factsheet


    London is a major international air transport hub with the largest city airspace in the world. Eight airports use the word London in their name, but most traffic passes through only five. London Heathrow Airportmarker, in Hillingdonmarker, West London, is the busiest airport in the world for international traffic, and is the major hub of the nation's flag carrier, British Airways. In March 2008 its fifth terminal was opened, and plans are already being considered for a sixth terminal and third runway. Similar traffic, with the addition of some low-cost short-haul flights, is also handled at London Gatwick Airportmarker, located south of London in West Sussex. London Stansted Airportmarker, situated north east of London in Essex, is the main hub for Ryanair, and London Luton Airportmarker to the north of London in Bedfordshire, caters mostly for low-cost short-haul flights. London City Airportmarker, the smallest and most central airport, is focused on business travellers, with a mixture of full service short-haul scheduled flights and considerable business jet traffic.


    Although the majority of journeys involving central London are made by public transport, car travel is common in the suburbs. The inner ring road (around the city centre), the Northmarker and South Circular roads (in the suburbs), and the outer orbital motorway (the M25marker, outside the built-up area) encircle the city and are intersected by a number of busy radial routes—but very few motorways penetrate into inner London. The M25 is the longest ring-road motorway in the world at long. A plan for a comprehensive network of motorways throughout the city (the Ringways Plan) was prepared in the 1960s but was mostly cancelled in the early 1970s. In 2003, a congestion charge was introduced to reduce traffic volumes in the city centre. With a few exceptions, motorists are required to pay £8 per day to drive within a defined zone encompassing much of congested central London. Motorists who are residents of the defined zone can buy a vastly reduced season pass which is renewed monthly and is cheaper than a corresponding bus fare. London is notorious for its traffic congestion, with the M25 motorway the busiest stretch in the country. The average speed of a car in the rush hour is 10.6 mph.


    Home to a range of universities, colleges and schools, London has a student population of about 378,000 and is a centre of research and development. Most primary and secondary schools in London follow the same system as the rest of England—comprehensive schooling.With 125,000 students, the University of London is the largest contact teaching university in the United Kingdom and in Europe. It comprises 20 colleges as well as several smaller institutes each with a high degree of autonomy. Constituent colleges have their own admissions procedures, and are effectively universities in their own right, although most degrees are awarded by the University of London rather than the individual colleges. Its constituents include multi-disciplinary colleges such as Royal Holloway, Birkbeckmarker, UCLmarker, King'smarker, Goldsmiths, Queen Marymarker and more specialised institutions such as the London School of Economicsmarker, SOASmarker, the Royal Academy of Musicmarker, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the Courtauld Institute of Artmarker and the Institute of Educationmarker. University College Londonmarker and Imperial College Londonmarker have been ranked among the top ten universities in the world by Times Higher Education: in 2008 UCLmarker was ranked the 7th best and Imperialmarker the 6th best university in the world. In addition, the London School of Economicsmarker has been described as the world‘s leading social science institution for teaching and research, and has the most international student body of any university in the world today.

    A number of colleges are dedicated to the fine arts, including the Royal College of Musicmarker, Royal College of Artmarker, and Guildhall School of Music and Drama. London's other universities, such as Brunel Universitymarker, City Universitymarker, London Metropolitan Universitymarker, Middlesex University, University of East Londonmarker, University of the Arts Londonmarker, University of Westminstermarker, Kingston Universitymarker and London South Bank Universitymarker are not part of the University of London but are still leaders in their field and popular choices among students both nationally and internationally. Some were polytechnics until they were granted university status in 1992, and others which were founded much earlier. Imperial College London left the federal University of London in 2007. Since the merger of University of North Londonmarker and London Guildhall Universitymarker in 2003, London Metropolitan Universitymarker is the largest unitary university in the capital, with over 34,000 students from 155 countries. About London Met London Metropolitan University, August 2008 London is also known globally for its business education, with the London Business Schoolmarker (ranked 1st in Europe—Business Week) and Cass Business Schoolmarker (Europe's largest finance school) both being top world-rated business schools. In addition there are three international universities: Schiller International University, Richmond Universitymarker and Regent's College.



    The London accent long ago acquired the Cockney label, and was similar to many accents of the South East of England, of which Cockney Rhyming slang is a part. The accent of a 21st century 'Londoner' varies widely; what is becoming more and more common amongst the under 30s however is some fusion of Cockney, Received Pronunciation, and a whole array of 'ethnic' accents, in particular Caribbeanmarker, which form an accent labelled Multicultural London English (MLE).

    Leisure and entertainment

    Within the City of Westminster, the entertainment district of the West Endmarker has its focus around Leicester Squaremarker, where London and world film premieres are held, and Piccadilly Circusmarker, with its giant electronic advertisements. London's theatre district is here, as are many cinemas, bars, clubs and restaurants, including the city's Chinatownmarker district (in Soho), and just to the east is Covent Gardenmarker, an area housing speciality shops. The United Kingdom's Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Royal Opera and English National Opera are based in London and perform at the Royal Opera Housemarker, The London Coliseum, Sadler's Wells Theatremarker and the Royal Albert Hallmarker as well as touring the country. Islingtonmarker's long Upper Street, extending Northwards from The Angel, has more bars and restaurants than any other street in the UK. Europe's busiest shopping area is Oxford Streetmarker, a shopping street nearly long—which makes it the longest shopping street in the uk—and home to many shops and department stores including Selfridges. Knightsbridgemarker—home to the Harrodsmarker department store—lies just to the southwest.

    London is home to designers Vivienne Westwood, Galliano, Stella McCartney, Manolo Blahnik, and Jimmy Choo among others; its renowned art and fashion schools make it an international centre of fashion alongside Paris, Milan and New York. London offers a great variety of cuisine as a result of its ethnically diverse population. Gastronomic centres include the Bangladeshi restaurants of Brick Lanemarker and the Chinese food restaurants of Chinatown. There are a variety of regular annual events in the city. The beginning of the year is celebrated with the relatively new New Year's Day Parade, and the world's second largest street party, the Notting Hill Carnivalmarker is held during the late August Bank holiday each year. Traditional parades include November's Lord Mayor's Show, a centuries-old event celebrating the annual appointment of a new Lord Mayor of the City of London with a procession along the streets of the City, and June's Trooping the Colour, a formal military pageant performed by regiments of the Commonwealth and British armies to celebrate the Queen's Official Birthday.

    Literature and film

    London has been the setting for many works of literature. The literary centres of London have traditionally been hilly Hampsteadmarker and (since the early 20th century) Bloomsburymarker. Writers closely associated with the city are the diarist Samuel Pepys, noted for his eyewitness account of the Great Firemarker, Charles Dickens, whose representation of a foggy, snowy, grimy London of street sweepers and pickpockets has been a major influence on people's vision of early Victorian London, Virginia Woolf, novelist, epistle, feminist, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century. The earlier (1722) A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe is a fictionalisation of the events of the 1665 Great Plague. William Shakespeare spent a large part of his life living and working in London; his contemporary Ben Jonson was also based in London, and some of his work—most notably his play The Alchemist—was set in the state. Later important depictions of London from the 19th and early 20th centuries are Dickens' novels, and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. A modern writer pervasively influenced by the city is Peter Ackroyd, in works such as London: The Biography, The Lambs of London and Hawksmoor. London was also the setting of Peter Pan (1953), The 101 Dalmatians (1961), Mary Poppins (1964), Blowup (1966), Secrets & Lies (1996), Notting Hill (1999), Match Point (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (2008), and is home to the television soap EastEnders. London has played a significant role in the film industry, and has major studios at Ealingmarker and a special effects and post-production community centred in Sohomarker. Working Title Films has its headquarters in London.

    Museums and art galleries

    London is home to many museums, galleries, and other institutions which are major tourist attractions as well as playing a research role. The Natural History Museummarker (biology and geology), Science Museummarker and Victoria and Albert Museummarker (fashion and design) are clustered in South Kensingtonmarker's "museum quarter", while the British Museummarker houses historic artefacts from around the world. The British Librarymarker at St Pancrasmarker is the UK's national library, housing 150 million items. The city also houses extensive art collections, primarily in the National Gallerymarker, Tate Britainmarker and Tate Modernmarker.


    London is one of the major classical and popular music capitals of the world and is home to major music corporations, such as EMI, as well as countless bands, musicians and industry professionals. London is home to many orchestras and concert halls such as the Barbican Arts Centremarker (principal base of the London Symphony Orchestra), Cadogan Hallmarker (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) and the Royal Albert Hallmarker (BBC Promenade Concerts). London's two main opera houses are the Royal Opera Housemarker and the Coliseum Theatremarker. London is home to the UK's largest pipe organ, at the Royal Albert Hallmarker. Other significant instruments are found at the cathedrals and major churches. Several conservatoires are located within the city: Royal Academy of Musicmarker, Royal College of Musicmarker, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and Trinity College of Musicmarker.

    London has numerous venues for rock and pop concerts, including large arenas such as Earls Courtmarker, Wembley Arenamarker and the O2 Arenamarker, as well as numerous mid-size venues, such as Brixton Academymarker, Hammersmith Apollomarker and The Shepherd's Bush Empiremarker. London also hosts many music festivals, including the O2 Wireless Festival. London is home to the first and original Hard Rock Cafe and the Abbey Road Studiosmarker where The Beatles recorded many of their hits. In the seventies and eighties, musicians like David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Cat Stevens, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Smiths, Madness, The Jam, The Small Faces, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Fleetwood Mac, The Police, The Cure, Squeeze and Sade , took the world by storm, deriving their sound from the streets and rhythms vibrating through London. London was instrumental in the development of punk music, allmusic with figures such as the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Vivienne Westwood all based in the city. More recent artists to emerge from the London music scene include Bananarama, Bush, East 17, Siouxie and the Banshees, Spice Girls, Jamiroquai, The Libertines, Babyshambles, Bloc Party, The Verve, Coldplay, Radiohead and Amy Winehouse. London is also a centre for urban music. In particular the genres UK Garage, Drum and Bass, dubstep and Grime evolved in the city from the foreign genres of hip hop and reggae, alongside local drum and bass. Black music station BBC 1Xtra was set up to support the rise of homegrown urban music both in London and the rest of the UK.


    London has hosted the Summer Olympics twice, in 1908marker and 1948. In July 2005 London was chosen to host the Games in 2012, which will make it the first city in the world to host the Summer Olympics three times. London was also the host of the British Empire Games in 1934. London's most popular sport is football and it has thirteen League football clubs, including five in the Premier League: Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United. London also has four rugby union teams in the Guinness Premiership (London Irish, Saracens, Waspsmarker and Harlequins), although only the Harlequins play in London (all the other three now play outside Greater London, although Saracens still play within the M25). There are two professional rugby league clubs in London – Harlequins Rugby League who play in the Super League at the Stoop and the National League 2 side the London Skolars (based in Wood Greenmarker, London Borough of Haringeymarker).

    From 1924, the original Wembley Stadiummarker was the home of the English national football team, and served as the venue for the FA Cup final as well as rugby league's Challenge Cup final. The new Wembley Stadiummarker serves exactly the same purposes and has a capacity of 90,000. Twickenham Stadiummarker in south-west London is the national rugby union stadium, and has a capacity of 84,000 now that the new south stand has been completed. Cricket in London is served by two Test cricket grounds Lord'smarker (home of Middlesex C.C.C) in St John's Woodmarker, and The Ovalmarker (home of Surrey C.C.C) in Kenningtonmarker. One of London's best-known annual sports competitions is the Wimbledon Tennis Championshipsmarker, held at the All England Clubmarker in the south-western suburb of Wimbledonmarker. Other key events are the annual mass-participation London Marathon which sees some 35,000 runners attempt a course around the city, and the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race on the River Thames between Putneymarker and Mortlakemarker.

    Twin cities

    There are 46 other places on six continents named after London.Jack Malvern. Richmond, in Surrey, is the most widely copied British place name worldwide, timesonline 2008-12-29. The original byline for the article in The Times of the same day was "The 55 corners of foreign fields that will be for ever ... Richmond" (page 9). Cites The Times Universal Atlas of the World. As well as London's twinning, the London boroughs have twinnings with parts of other cities across the world. Shown below is the list of cities that the Greater London Authority has twinning arrangements with:

    The following cities have a friendship agreement with London:


     According to the Collins English Dictionary definition of 'the seat of government',(1994) Collins English Dictionary, Collins Education plc. London is not the capital of England, as England does not have its own government. According to the Oxford English Reference Dictionary definition of 'the most important town'Oxford English Reference Dictionary, Oxford English. and many other authorities,"HC 501 0304.PDF" (PDF). Parliament Publications London is the capital of England.


    1. Nikolaus Pevsner, London I: The Cities of London and Westminster rev. edition,1962, Introduction p 48.
    2. Jewish Hampstead]
    3. " ", Visit London. Retrieved on 3 June 2006.
    4. Wolmar 2004, p. 18.


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