apital of England and the United Kingdom, located on the River Thames.
London is also mother city of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is the seat of one of the
world's oldest parliamentary governments, yet it retains all the pomp and ceremony of a
medieval kingdom. It is a great industrial city, an international center of finance, and a
huge port. Greater London is one of the world's largest metropolitan areas.
Greater London Authority - Corporation of London - Barking and Dagenham - Barnet - Bexley
- Brent - Bromley - Camden - Croydon - Ealing - Enfield - Greenwich - Hackney - Hammersmith & Fulham - Haringey - Harrow - Havering - Hillingdon - Hounslow - Islington - Kensington and Chelsea - Kingston upon Thames - Lambeth - Lewisham - Merton - Newham - Redbridge - Richmond Upon Thames - Southwark - Sutton - Tower Hamlets - Waltham Forest - Wandsworth - Westminster
|owns and cities
its metropolitan area has been known as Greater London, consisting of the City of London
and 32 boroughs; The City of London, known
as the `square mileï¿½, is the financial and commercial centre of the UK
Popular tourist attractions include the Tower of London, St Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham
Palace, and Westminster Abbey. The Millennium Dome at Greenwich was the centrepiece of
Britain's millennium celebrations.
The inner London boroughs of Greater London are
Camden, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea,
Lambeth, Lewisham, Newham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth, and the City of
The outer London boroughs of Greater London are Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley,
Brent, Bromley, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon,
Hounslow, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Sutton, and
Roman Londinium was established soon after the Roman invasion in AD 43; in the 2nd
century London became a walled city; by the 11th century it was the main city of England
and gradually extended beyond the walls to link with the originally separate Westminster.
Throughout the 19th century London had the largest city-based population in the world.
||1,580 sq. km / 610 sq. m
||7,001,900 (1995) excluding the cities of London and Westminster. The City
of London's resident population is only around 5,000, but about 300,000 people commute to
the area for work.
lies about 60 km / 37 miles from the mouth of the Thames estuary on the North Sea, the
principal entry into England from mainland Europe since prehistoric times. Situated in the
London Basin, a downfold in the chalk formations lining the course of the River Thames,
the city occupies both sides of the river, the larger part being on the left or north
bank. It is underlain by a mixture of sands, clays, gravels and alluvium. The original
settlement occupied an island of river gravel surrounding the two small rises of Cornhill
and Ludgate Hill on the northern bank of the Thames, an area defended by marshland and by
tributaries of the Thames, the Lea to the east and the Fleet to the west. The Romans, who
wished to bridge the Thames, originally chose this fordable site as one which was
accessible from the sea and had a solid soil that would support wooden bridge foundations.
Another tract of gravel on the south bank became Southwark. The Thames barrier (1982), the
largest movable flood barrier in the world, was constructed to protect London from the
threat of high tides.
Saxon times the Port of London dominated the Thames from Tower Bridge to Tilbury. Its
activity is now centred outside the metropolitan area, and downstream Tilbury has been
extended to cope with container traffic. The prime economic importance of modern London is
as a financial centre. There are various industries, mainly on the outskirts. There are
also recording, broadcasting, television, and film studios; publishing companies; and the
works and offices of the national press.
Tourism is important. Some of the docks in the
East End of London, once the busiest in the world, were sold to the Docklands Development
Corporation, which has built offices, houses, factories, and a railway. The world's
largest office development project is at Canary Wharf. The City Thameslink station, the
first mainline railway station to be built in London for nearly a century, opened in 1991.
||Many famous people have associations with London for obvious reasons. But
the following were actually born in the city. Trevor Baylis, John Betjeman, William Blake, Lord Byron, Charlie Chaplin, Geoffrey Chaucer Benjamin
Disraeli, Henry VIII, John Milton, Samuel Pepys,
||Greater London has thousands of places worth visiting which we couldn't
possibly hope to cover on one page. There are also a plethora of guide books and web sites
which cover the capitol city in detail. We will continue to expand this page of
suggestions but suggest if you're intending to spend some time in London, it would be
worth investing in a guide book.
ceremonies include the Trooping of the Colour, marking the queen's official birthday in
June, and the Lord Mayor's Show, a procession of over 140 floats led by the golden Lord
Mayor's Coach in November. Other annual events are the Notting Hill Carnival, a
Caribbean-style street festival held in August; the Boat Race, on the Thames between
Putney and Mortlake, held since 1829 between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge; the
London Marathon, established in 1981; and the New Year's Eve celebrations in Trafalgar
Square, televised throughout the country.
London has hosted a number of major festivals and sporting events: the Great Exhibition
(1851); the Festival of Britain (1951); the Olympic Games (1948); the football World Cup
Final (1966); the Rugby Union World Cup Final (1991).
London is home to
many famous sports stadiums including some of the biggest football teams in the UK. The
National Football stadium at Wembley is now
being replaced by a new multi million pound complex.
Wimbledon is the home of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and site of the
international Lawn Tennis championship.
The Lord's and Oval cricket grounds host the Test matches.
Twickenham is the home of English rugby union
Various sporting and cultural events are held at the international arenas of Wembley
Stadium and Crystal Palace.
As a centre of English
drama since the 16th century, London has many theatres, particularly in and around
Piccadilly, Shaftesbury Avenue, and Leicester Square. Historic West End theatres include
the Haymarket (1821), Criterion (1874), Drury Lane (1663), and Her Majesty's (1897).London
was the UK's foremost musical centre by the early 16th century, and has been considered a
leading international venue since the 18th century. Major foreign composers such as
Handel, Bach, and Haydn lived and worked in the city, and Italian opera found an
enthusiastic audience. Today the city houses the UK's two leading colleges of music, the
Royal College of Music and Royal Academy of Music. London has five professional symphony
orchestras: the London Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Philharmonia, the Royal
Philharmonic, and the BBC Symphony.
London is one of the world's principal cultural centres, and its long-established
collections cover all branches of knowledge and the arts. The oldest museums are the
British Museum (1759), the largest in the UK; the Natural History Museum (1856); the
Science Museum (1853); the Victoria and Albert Museum (1852), housing one of the world's
largest collections of the decorative arts; and the waxworks of Madame Tussaud (1802).
London's history is celebrated at the Museum of London (1976), and the development of film
at the Museum of the Moving Image. Military museums include the Imperial War Museum
(1917), for operations from 1914, and the National Army Museum (1960), covering the period
1485-1914. The Cutty Sark, a tea clipper launched in 1869, and the World War II battleship
HMS Belfast are moored in the Thames and are open to the public. The National Maritime
Museum in Greenwich incorporates the Old Royal Observatory, the point from which Greenwich
Mean Time was originally established. The National Gallery (1824) houses pre-20th-century
art and the most comprehensive collection of Italian Gothic and Renaissance works outside
Italy, and the National Portrait Gallery (1856) is devoted to distinguished British
figures. Art from the 17th century to the modern era is displayed at the Tate Gallery
(1897), while the Courtauld Institute (1931) is notable for its Impressionist and
Post-Impressionist collections. The Wallace Collection (1897) contains one of the world's
finest displays of 18th-century French art.The London Underground (or `tubeï¿½) was the
world's first underground railway, and is now the world's longest, with 12 lines and over
391 km/243 miles of routes serving the city and its suburbs.
London is the location of the world's largest insurance market, with a net premium
income of ï¿½14 billion in 1996. 28% of world marine insurance and 38% of aviation
insurance are traded in London. Lloyd's of London, established in the 1680s by Edward
Lloyd, accounts for half of all international insurance premiums underwritten in the
London market.The Royal Exchange (1567), London's international stock exchange, is also
based in the City. It is the world's largest centre for trading foreign equities,
accounting for 60% of global turnover in 1996. In the 1960s London was the world's largest
single borrowing source. Finance, business, and commerce are London's principal economic
activities. It is the world's leading international financial centre, with more than 565
foreign banks. Banking and insurance are concentrated in the City of London, and parts of
Finsbury and Holborn. The City is home to the Bank of England (1694), banker to the
clearing banks and the UK government.
Streets, Squares, and Houses
As London grew, it swallowed up more than a hundred towns, villages, and parishes. Many of
these communities retained their names and their individual character, along with their
irregular street systems. The main east-west thoroughfares follow the windings of the
Thames. Others cut across them, making a beeline for one of London's 15 bridges. A wide
boulevard, called the Embankment, now borders the north bank of the Thames, hiding
London's historic waterfront street, the Strand. The clay soil made difficult the
construction of tall buildings, and the development of transportation encouraged the
growth of suburbs. London therefore spread out horizontally and now covers an area about
half the size of Rhode Island. Even in central London most of the buildings are less than
six stories high. Blocks of apartment houses are beginning to replace private dwellings;
however, the typical London street is still lined with narrow-fronted stone or brick
residences that date back to the 18th or 19th century. The houses gain in impressiveness
by being built in an unbroken row. From every roof rises a cluster of chimney pots. Each
chimney pot is the flue of an open fireplace that heats a single room. The Londoner is
seldom far from grass and flowers. Scattered over the cityï¿½particularly in the West
Endï¿½are great parks and dozens of small green squares. The parks are open to the public,
but the squares belong to residents of the district and are private. The open spaces where
several streets come together are also called squares, or sometimes circuses. They may be
any shape. (Piccadilly Circus is almost a triangle.) When a thoroughfare crosses a square
it usually changes its name. Most of London's best-known streets are therefore less than a