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

London is the capital of the United Kingdom and of England, and one of the largest cities in Europe.

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History Originally a Celtic town, it was settled by the Roman invaders who called it Londinium and used it as a port on the River Thames. The Thames runs right through the city and bisects it, north from south, although it is crossed by a number of bridges and tunnels, the most famous of which is the neo-Gothic[?] Tower Bridge.

Over the years, London has increased dramatically in size, absorbing meadows, woodlands, villages and towns and, prior to 1940, spread outwards in every direction. The Greater London administrative area covers 1579 km2 with a population of around seven million. For more detail on the historical development of London see the history of London. Outward growth was halted through the definition of a Green Belt.

Contemporary London Today Greater London 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 usually much calmer on the weekends.

The London that most tourists see is the West End with all its theatres, shops and restaurants. 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 tourist sites in the West End are mainly in South Kensington or the City of Westminster. The East End is centred on the Borough of Tower Hamlets. 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 (at Luton, United Kingdom[?]), and London Stansted Airport (at Essex, United Kingdom[?]), as well as those at Manston and Southend, incorporate "London" in their name, but they are situated in the Home Counties at some distance. 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.

The elected Mayor of London is Ken Livingstone, who was expelled from the Labour Party following his election as an independent. 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 was abolished by the Conservative Government led by Margaret Thatcher in 1985.

Panorama of London taken from the London Eye.
Very large version (1MB)

Population The citizens of London are, and have been for many centuries, diverse in most respects. On census day, 2001, London (the square mile and the 32 boroughs) had 7,172,000 inhabitants, making it one of the most populous cities in Europe and the second largest city in the European Union (after Paris). Of these seven million people, 71% class themselves as white, 6% as Indian, 5.3% as black African and 4.8% as black Caribbean. The largest religious groupings are Christian (58.2%) and No Religion (15.8%). 21.8% of inhabitants were born outside the EU.

Prime London Tourist Attractions:

London by night as seen from space. larger version

Former London tourist attractions:

Other historical places:

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 Tube, also known as the Underground, 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 a number of football clubs. Some of the more famous ones in the top division are: Arsenal F.C., Charlton Athletic F.C., Chelsea F.C., Fulham F.C., Tottenham Hotspur F.C. (Spurs), and West Ham United F.C.. Less famous and proportionately less successful clubs include Crystal Palace F.C.[?], Millwall F.C.[?], Queen's Park Rangers F.C.[?], Wimbledon F.C., although they have all at one time or another had a period in the top flight of English league football. Other minor clubs include Brentford F.C.[?] and Leyton Orient F.C.[?].

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.


1851 - Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations -- Crystal Palace
1862 - International Exhibition (1862)
1871 - First Annual International Exhibition (1871)[?]
1872 - Second Annual International Exhibition (1872)[?]
1873 - Third Annual International Exhibition (1873)[?]
1874 - Fourth Annual International Exhibition (1874)[?]
1886 - Colonial and Indian Exhibition (1886)[?]
1899 - Greater Britain Exhibition (1899)[?]
1908 - Franco-British Exhibition (1908)[?]
1924 - Wembley, London, England - British Empire Exhibition (1924)[?]
1951 - Festival of Britain

See also

External Links

  • There is a project underway to document all of London in a wiki, called Grubstreet (http://grault.net/grubstreet/).

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