For other places of the same name see London (disambiguation).

London is the capital of the United Kingdom and of England, and is among the largest conurbations of Europe. From being Londinium, the capital of Roman Britannia, it rose to become the centre of the British Empire and to contribute today 17% of the GDP of the world's fourth largest economy. London has been one of the world's most important centres of commerce and politics for almost two millennia (although the capital of England was Winchester during most of the Dark Ages).

The term "London" was used for hundreds of years to refer to the conurbation centred on the small City of London. Today, it usually refers to the area known legally as Greater London, but sometimes refers to the London commuter belt.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Contemporary London
3 Government
4 Population
5 Airports
6 Public Transport System
7 Sport
8 Culture
9 Business
10 Prime London Tourist Attractions
11 Prominent Exhibitions
12 Books Featuring London
13 Films and Television Shows Featuring London
14 See Also
15 External Links


See History of London for full details of the history of London. The following is a summary:

London was founded by the Romans in around 50 AD. It became the capital of Britain in the early second Century it is thought. The town was virtually non existent in the Dark Ages and relocated a mile or two west to the Aldwych area in the 7th Century AD. It relocated back to the roman fortified City of London area in the late 9th, early 10th Century, whereafter it resumed its role as Britain's biggest City but it did not become the capital of England again until the 12th Century. By the 18th Century London was the biggest City in the world.

Over the years, London has increased dramatically in size, absorbing meadows, woodlands, villages and towns and spreading outwards in every direction. Outward growth has been physically interrupted (though by no means halted) through the definition of a Green Belt. In recent years development has been concentrated in the London Docklands area.

For more detail of its historical development, see the history of London.

Contemporary London

Today the Greater London administrative area comprises the City of London and 32 London boroughs including the City of Westminster. The City of London, also known as the "square mile", is predominantly the financial centre, and geographically a very small area. Although bustling during the working week, the City of London is usually much calmer on the weekends.

The London that most tourists see is Central London which comprises the historic City of London, the West End with all its theatres, shops and restaurants, the City of Westminster and its Royal palaces, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea with its museum quarter and Hyde Park and the newly emerging Bankside area of Southwark with the Globe Theatre and Tate Modern and other attractions.

In contrast, the East End has played host to successive waves of immigrants for centuries and contains some of the UK's more deprived areas. The Isle of Dogs is however witnessing unprecedented commercial change and many restaurants, music and comedy clubs are injecting a more varied atmosphere. See also gentrification. The East End is centred on the Borough of Tower Hamlets and Hackney.


The elected Mayor of London is Ken Livingstone, who was expelled from the Labour Party after standing as an independent, against the official Labour candidate. He is regulated to some extent by an Assembly elected by a proportional voting system, which is unusual in the British political context. Improvements in public safety and transport are his key priorities.

There is every likelihood that the Mayor and the Assembly will be in conflict with one or more Boroughs from time to time, they had each enjoyed "unitary status" and a fair degree of autonomy since the Greater London (county) Council, also led by Livingstone, was abolished by the Conservative Government led by Margaret Thatcher in 1986.


The citizens of London are, and have been for many centuries, diverse in most respects.

On census day, 2001, the City and the 32 boroughs (some 1579 km2 or 610 sq miles) had 7,172,036 inhabitants, making London one of the most populous cities in Europe alongside Moscow, Istanbul and Paris.

In the 2001 census 71% of these seven million people classed their ethnic group as white, 10% as Indian, Bangladeshi or Pakistani, 5% as black African, 5% as black Caribbean, 3% as mixed race and 1% as Chinese. The largest religious groupings are Christian (58.2%) and No Religion (15.8%). 21.8% of inhabitants were born outside the European Union.

The London metropolitan area (6,267 sq miles) had a population of 13,945,000 - larger than the combined populations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is the largest metropolitan area in Europe, and one of the World's largest 20. (external references: [1], [1])

''Panorama of London taken from the London Eye


The airfields of London City Airport, Heathrow, Biggin Hill, Kenley Aerodrome and Northolt lie within the London boundary.

Other airports, such as London Gatwick Airport, London Luton Airport, and London Stansted Airport, as well as those at Manston and Southend, incorporate "London" in their name, but the towns of Gatwick, Luton and Stansted where they are situated lie in the Home Counties at some distance from London.

Special train stations built at Gatwick, Luton and Stansted help to offset their physical remoteness from the capital and thus spread scheduled airline services in a safe and manageable way across the region.

Public Transport System

The London public transport system is one of the few systems in the world to be a tourist attraction in its own right; its infrastructure, however, is, and historically has been, financially stretched and under-resourced, leading to frequent difficulties and delays in making journeys.

While Transport for London runs the London Underground, also known as the Tube, the famous red double decker buses are now run by private companies, although it is a requirement that the buses are still painted (mostly) red. Government proposals to place the Underground network under a "public-private partnership" arrangement have encountered widespread opposition. Transport for London introduced a Congestion Charge levied on traffic entering Central London during peak hours in mid-February 2003 in order to alleviate chronic traffic congestion. See also British railway system.


London is home to over ten professional football clubs, most of them named after the district in which they play. Some of the more famous teams in the top division (the Premier League) are Arsenal (who play in Highbury), Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur (commonly known as Spurs), and until the 2002-03 season, West Ham United. Less famous and proportionately less successful clubs include Crystal Palace, Millwall, and Queens Park Rangers, although all these have at one time played in the top flight of English league football. Wimbledon F.C, in an extremely controversial move, left London in 2003 to play in the town of Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire. Other minor clubs in London include Brentford, Leyton Orient, and AFC Wimbledon. London is also home to many major sporting venues including Lord's home of the Marylebone Cricket Club and the Oval home Surrey's cricket club. Wimbledon is the home of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Twickenham is the home to English Rugby and Wembley, currently being rebuilt, is the home for international Football and Rugby League.



London has five professional symphony orchestras; the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. It has the world-famous Royal Opera House and is home to the English National Opera, as well has boasting the Royal Festival Hall, the South Bank and Barbican Centre complexes, and St. John's, Smith Square.


There are over a dozen major theatres, most concentrated in the West End (specifically, Theatreland) including the National Theatre, the London Palladium, the Almedia Theatre, and The Globe, which was the home stage of Shakespeare's troupe.


There are many art galleries, such as The National Gallery and The National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern, and the Dulwich Picture Gallery.


Museums include the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, Sir John Soane's house, now a museum of Georgian architecture.


The City of London or "Square Mile" is the financial centre of London, with many banks and financial institutions.

While the Port of London is now only the third largest in the United Kingdom, rather than largest in the world, it still handles 50 million tonnes of cargo each year.

London's economy generates 116,444 million pounds annually, and accounts for 17% of the UK's Gross Domestic Product - see Economy of the United Kingdom. (external link London Development Authority).

Tourism is one of the UK's largest industries, and in 2003 employed the equivalent of 350,000 full time workers in London [1].

Prime London Tourist Attractions

Other historical places:

Prominent Exhibitions

Trafalgar Square (East side) from the National Gallery

Books Featuring London

Films and Television Shows Featuring London

See Also

External Links