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Coordinates: 51°30′26″N 0°7′39″W / 51.50722°N 0.12750°W / 51.50722; -0.12750
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London montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article.Heron TowerTower 4230 St Mary AxeLeadenhall BuildingWillis BuildingLloyds BuildingCanary Wharf20 Fenchurch StreetCity of LondonLondon UndergroundElizabeth TowerTrafalgar SquareLondon EyeTower BridgeRiver Thames
Clockwise from top: City of London in the foreground with Canary Wharf in the far background, Trafalgar Square, London Eye, Tower Bridge and a London Underground roundel in front of Elizabeth Tower
London is located in the United Kingdom
Position in the United Kingdom
London is located in Europe
Location in Europe
London is located in Earth
Location on Earth
Coordinates: 51°30′26″N 0°7′39″W / 51.50722°N 0.12750°W / 51.50722; -0.12750
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionLondon (coterminous)
CountiesGreater London
City of London
Settled by RomansAD 47[1]
as Londinium
DistrictsCity of London & 32 boroughs
 • TypeExecutive mayoralty and deliberative assembly within unitary constitutional monarchy
 • BodyGreater London Authority
Mayor Sadiq Khan (L)
London Assembly
 • London Assembly14 constituencies
 • UK Parliament73 constituencies
 • Total607 sq mi (1,572 km2)
 • Urban
671.0 sq mi (1,737.9 km2)
 • Metro
3,236 sq mi (8,382 km2)
 • City of London1.12 sq mi (2.90 km2)
 • Greater London606 sq mi (1,569 km2)
Elevation36 ft (11 m)
 • Total8,908,081
 • Density14,670/sq mi (5,666/km2)
 • Urban
 • Metro
14,257,962[3] (1st)
 • City of London
8,706 (67th)
 • Greater London
GVA (2018)
 • Total£487 billion
($624 billion)
 • Per capita£54,686
Time zoneUTC (Greenwich Mean Time)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (British Summer Time)
Postcode areas
22 areas
Area codes
  • 020, 01322, 01689, 01708, 01737, 01895, 01923, 01959, 01992
PoliceCity of London
Fire and rescueLondon
AirportsHeathrow (LHR)
City (LCY)
Outside London:
Gatwick (LGW)
Stansted (STN)
Luton (LTN)
Southend (SEN)

London is the capital of the United Kingdom (UK), and its largest city.[6]

It is also the city with the highest population in the UK. The population is just under 9 million.[7] The city is the largest in western Europe by population and area.

On the Thames, London has been a central city since it was founded by the Romans two millennia ago as Londinium.[8] The Romans bridged the river Thames and built a road network to connect Londinium with the rest of the country.[9]

London's original city centre, the City of London is England's smallest city. In 2011 it had 7,375 inhabitants on an area of 1.12 sq mi (2.90 km2). The term "London" is used for the urban region which developed around this city centre. This area forms the region of London, the Greater London administrative unit led by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

London is one of the world's most important political, economic and cultural centres.[10] London was the capital of the British Empire and so for almost three centuries the centre of power for large parts of the world.

The city has about 9.1 million inhabitants (2018). If one counts the entire metropolitan area of London (London Metropolitan Area), it has about 15 million people. The climate is moderate.

The Romans built the city of Londinium along the River Thames in AD 43. The name Londinium (and later 'London') came from the Celtic language of the Ancient Britons. In AD 61, the city was attacked and destroyed. Then the Romans rebuilt the city, and London became an important trading hub.[11][12][13]

5th century: end of Roman rule to 12th century

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After the decline of the Roman Empire, few people remained in London. The Anglo-Saxon people of sub-Roman Britain were mainly agricultural. Once the Romans had gone, trade with Continental Europe got less. In the 9th century, more people started living in London again. It became the largest city in England. However, it did not become the capital city of England again until the 12th century. For a long time after the Romans, England was not unified, and so had no capital.

15th/16th century

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Trade grew and the East India Company was founded as a monopoly trader. London became the main North Sea port, and migrants went from England. The population rose from about 50,000 in 1530 to about 225,000 in 1605.[14]

The 16th century was a time of great change in the monarchy and the Church. The Church became the Church of England. The Scottish Church stayed loyal to Rome and Catholicism. In England the Bible had already been translated. This meant meant ordinary people could know for the first time what the Bible actually said. Before that a congregation had to accept what their preacher said. Elizabeth I was the main driver of these changes.

17th century

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The 17th century saw Londoners suffer from the plague and the fire of London. The century starts with the famous Gunpowder Plot.

In the 17th century the Stuart kings ruled: James I and Charles I. Charles Stuart was defeated by Cromwell, so the century was remarkable in that respect. Cromwell marks the beginning of the modern system whereby Parliament is more important than the monarch. The war between Cromwell and Charles was bitterly fought. London was the key city, and Oxford was also important.

The century also had two great disasters: the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London. The control of London by Cromwell and Parliament was one of the decisive factors in the civil war. Cromwell's victory was followed by his death in 1658, and the country for a time moved back to royal rule under Charles II.

The plague virus, carried by fleas on rats, came to Britain from Europe.[15]

The Great Fire of London broke out at the beginning of September 1666. Unfortunately there were warehouses full of timber, pitch, tallow, wine and tar. These caught fire and, in the end, all the riverfront buildings were destroyed. The fire eventually destroyed about 60% of the city, (mainly the City of London, rather than the large city we have today). Old St Paul's Cathedral was destroyed. Some fires burnt more widely, up to present-day Southwark and even Highgate.

Modern era

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Another famous old part of Greater London is Westminster, which was a different city from the City of London. In Westminster is Westminster Abbey (a cathedral), the Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament, and 10 Downing Street (where the Prime Minister lives).

After the railways were built, London grew much larger. Greater London has 33 boroughs (neighbourhoods) and a mayor. The old City of London is only a square mile in size but has its own Lord Mayor.

Expansion of London

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In stages, London has several times increased in size by statute in Parliament. The main motive for this has been taxation, and the increase in houses in what was once countryside. Since taxation was paid to the counties surrounding London, there was a motive for absorbing the countryside into London. This happened in several stages.

Outside London, local taxes are paid to the County Councils; inside London they are paid to the Greater London Council. One county has been lost entirely (Middlesex) and all the others have lost land and revenue. The London Boroughs and the GLA (Greater London Authority) both raise taxes, and the representatives are elected. There is a London Plan which sets out the priorities. The number of local authorities which raise local taxes and spend it is 33: 32 London boroughs and the City of London.

One aspect of its geology had big consequences. North of the Thames London is on chalk, which is easy (with modern equipment) to tunnel through. South of the Thames London is on clay, which was, and still is, much more difficult to dig out. So most of the subterranean engineering is north of the Thames. The road system south of the Thames is also inadequate by modern standards. This difference is reflected in the prices for property, the road transport, the Underground railway and the definition of "London" as a taxable area. The growth of London has been more vigorous North of the Thames, and has included the complete absorption of Middlesex, once a separate county.


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The Millennium Dome, also known as the O2 Arena, seen from the River Thames
A panorama of modern London, taken from the Golden Gallery of Saint Paul’s Cathedral

Business and economy

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London has five major business districts: the City, Westminster, Canary Wharf, Camden & Islington and Lambeth & Southwark.

The London Stock Exchange is the most international stock exchange and the largest in Europe.

Financial services

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London's largest industry is finance. This includes banks, stock exchanges, investment companies and insurance companies The Bank of England is in the City of London and is the second oldest bank in the world.

Professional services

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London has many professional services such as law and accounting firms.

The British Broadcasting Company (BBC), which has many radio and TV stations, is in London.

Tourism is one of London's biggest industries. London is the most visited city in the world by international tourists with 18.8 million international visitors per year. Within the UK, London is home to the ten most-visited tourist attractions. Tourism employed about 350,000 full-time workers in London in 2003. Tourists spend about £15 billion per year.[17]


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A growing number of technology companies are based in London.

London is a major retail centre, and in 2010 had the highest non-food retail sales of any city in the world, with a total spend of around £64.2 billion. The UK's fashion industry, centred on London, contributes tens of billions to the economy.

Manufacturing and construction

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For the 19th and much of the 20th centuries London was a major manufacturing centre (see Manufacturing in London), with over 1.5 million industrial workers in 1960. Many products were made in London including ships, electronics and cars. Nowadays, most of these manufacturing companies are closed but some drug companies still make medicine in London.

Transportation (trains, airports and underground)

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The city has a huge network of transport systems including trains, underground (metro) and five main airports.

The Victorians built many train systems in the mid-19th century (1850s). Their main stations are in London, and the lines go to every part of Great Britain. There were originally five major companies but the five companies became a national rail network in modern times. Their terminals at King's Cross, St. Pancras, Paddington, Waterloo and Charing Cross are still used as terminals.

There are five airports, though only one is actually in London (London City Airport). The most used airport is Heathrow Airport, although it is actually outside the city. There is the London end of the London–Birmingham canal, which was important to the industrial 19th century. Really heavy goods can be best transported on water by canal or sea.

The London Underground is a system of electric trains which are in London. It is the oldest underground railway in the world. It started running in 1863 as the Metropolitan Railway. Later, the system was copied in other cities, for example Paris, New York, Moscow and Madrid. Even though it is called the London Underground, about half of it is above the ground. The "Tube" is the name used for the London Underground, because the tunnels for some the central lines are semi-round tubes running through the ground. The Underground has 274 stations and over 250 miles (402 km) of track. Over one billion passengers used the Underground each year.

With the need for more rail capacity in London, the Elizabeth line (also known as Crossrail) opened in May 2022.[18] It is a new railway line running east to west through London, with a branch to Heathrow Airport.[19] It is Europe's biggest construction project, with a £15 billion projected cost.[20][21]

There is a black taxi system regulated by the Metropolitan Police, and various other private enterprise hire car companies. Efforts are being made to make roads safer for cyclists.

Sewage tunnel

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London's biggest tunnel has just been completed to take sewage from the capital to the East where it is processed.[22]

London has a temperate oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfb). It is not usually very hot or cold. It is often cloudy.

Summers are generally warm, sometimes hot. Winters are generally cool. Spring and autumn are mild.

London has regular, light rain throughout the year. July is the warmest month, with an average temperature at Greenwich of 13.6 °C to 22.8 °C. The coldest month is January, with an average of 2.4 °C to 7.9 °C. The average annual precipitation is fairly low at 583.6 mm, and February is normally the driest month. Drought is sometimes possible, especially during longer heatwaves in summer. Snow is uncommon but usually falls at least once each winter and heavy snow is rarer and does not happen every winter. While snow is uncommon in central London itself, there is more snow in the outer areas; this is because the "urban heat island" the big city generates makes the city about 5 °C warmer than surrounding areas in winter.

Temperature extremes in London range from 40.2 °C (104.4 °F) at Heathrow Airport on 19 July 2022 down to −16.1 °C (3.0 °F) at Northolt on 1 January 1962.[23][24]

Climate data for Heathrow Airport
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 17.2
Mean maximum °C (°F) 13.1
Average high °C (°F) 8.1
Average low °C (°F) 2.3
Mean minimum °C (°F) −4.2
Record low °C (°F) −16.1
Average rainfall mm (inches) 55.2
Average rainy days 11.1 8.5 9.3 9.1 8.8 8.2 7.7 7.5 8.1 10.8 10.3 10.2 109.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 61.5 77.9 114.6 168.7 198.5 204.3 212.0 204.7 149.3 116.5 72.6 52.0 1,632.6
Source: Met Office [25] Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute [26][27]


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The Tower Bridge in London

London has twin and sister city agreements with these cities:

London also has a "partnership" agreement with Tokyo, Japan.


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  1. Number 1 Poultry (ONE 94), Museum of London Archaeology, 2013. Archaeology Data Service, The University of York.
  2. "London weather map". The Met Office. Archived from the original on 3 August 2018. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  3. "Metropolitan Area Populations". Eurostat. 18 June 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  4. "Regional economic activity by gross domestic product, UK: 1998 to 2018". ons.gov.uk.
  5. Sub-national HDI. "Area Database - Global Data Lab". hdi.globaldatalab.org.
  6. Technically, England does not have a capital because Parliament is for the whole United Kingdom. Pearsall, Judy & Trumble, Bill, eds. 2002. The Oxford English Reference Dictionary (2nd, rev ed). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198606529
  7. Office for National Statistics. [1]
  8. Perring, Dominic 1991. Roman London. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-203-23133-3
  9. Museum of London. [2]
  10. Leading European cities by gross domestic product in 2017/18. [3]
  11. Hingley, Richard 2018. Londinium: a biography: Roman London from its origins to the fifth century. London. ISBN 978-1-350-04730-3
  12. Dunwoodie, Lesley. 2015. An early Roman fort and urban development on Londinium's eastern hill: excavations at Plantation Place, City of London, 1997-2003. Harward, Chiz. & Pitt, Ken. London: MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology). ISBN 978-1-907586-32-3
  13. Wallace, Leslie 2015. The origin of Roman London. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-04757-0
  14. Pevsner, Nikolaus 1962. London – The Cities of London and Westminster. Vol. 1 (2nd ed). Penguin Books, p48. ASIN [B0000CLHU5]
  15. Walter George Bell (1951). The Great Plague of London. p. 13.
  17. "London Travel Guide". Archived from the original on 1 May 2021. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  18. "Crossrail opening date finally announced". 4 May 2022. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  19. "Regional Map". Crossrail. 2021. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  20. Lister, Richard (2 January 2012). "Crossrail's giant tunnelling machines unveiled". BBC News. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  21. Leftly, Mark (23 October 2011). "Crossrail delayed to save £1bn". The Independent. London. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  22. BBC [4] Inside London's hidden power tunnels.
  23. "1962". Trevor Harley. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  24. "Search | Climate Data Online (CDO) | National Climatic Data Center (NCDC)". Archived from the original on 29 July 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  25. "London Heathrow Airport". Met Office. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  26. "Heathrow Airport Extreme Values". KNMI. Archived from the original on 2 February 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  27. "Heathrow 1981–2010 mean maximum and minimum values". KNMI. Archived from the original on 16 April 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 "Beijing, London to be sister cities". China Daily, 11 April 2006. Retrieved 6 June 2006.
  29. "Sister City - London". nyc.gov. Archived from the original on 14 January 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2007.

Other websites

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