London – England, Europe
London is the capital city of England and the UnitedKingdom, the largest metropolitanarea in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the EuropeanUnion by most measures. Located on the RiverThames, Londonhas been a major settlement for two millennia, itshistory going back to its founding by the Romans,who called it Londinium. London’sancient core, the City of London, largely retains its square-mile medievalboundaries. Since at least the 19th century, the name London has also referred to the metropolisdeveloped around this core. The bulk of this conurbationforms the London region and the GreaterLondon administrative area, governed by the elected Mayorof London and the London Assembly.
London is a leading global city,with strengths in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion,finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development,tourism and transport all contributing to its prominence. It is the world’slargest financial centre alongside NewYork City and has the fifth-largest city GDP in the world (and thelargest in Europe). It has the mostinternational visitors of any city in the world and London Heathrow is the world’sbusiest airport by number of international passengers. London’s43 universities form the largest concentration of higher education in Europe. In 2012 Londonwill become the first city to host the modern Summer Olympic Games three times.
London has a diverse range of peoples,cultures and religions and more than 300 languages are spoken within itsboundaries. In July 2010 Greater London had an official population of7,825,200, making it the mostpopulous municipality in the European Union. The Greater London Urban Area is the second-largest in the EUwith a population of 8,278,251, while London’s metropolitanarea is the largest in the EU with an estimated total population of between12 million and 14 million. Londonhad the largest population of any city in the world from around 1831 to 1925.
London contains four World Heritage Sites: the Towerof London; Kew Gardens; the site comprising the Palace of Westminster, WestminsterAbbey, and St Margaret’s Church; and the historicsettlement of Greenwich(in which the Royal Observatory marks the PrimeMeridian (0° longitude) and GMT). Other famous landmarks include BuckinghamPalace, the London Eye, PiccadillyCircus, 30 St Mary Axe (“The Gherkin”), St Paul’s Cathedral, TowerBridge, Trafalgar Square and WembleyStadium. London is home to numerous museums, galleries, libraries, sportingevents and other cultural institutions, including the BritishMuseum, National Gallery, BritishLibrary, Wimbledon and 40 theatres. London’s Chinatownis the largest in Europe. The London Underground is the oldest undergroundrailway network in the world and the second-most extensive (after the ShanghaiMetro).
London has a temperate oceanicclimate, similar to much of southern Britain. The City of London is the mainfinancial district and Canary Wharf has recently developed into a newfinancial and commercial hub, in the Docklandsto the east.
The West End is London’s main entertainment and shoppingdistrict, attracting tourists. West London includes expensive residentialareas where properties can sell for tens of millions of pounds. The averageprice for properties in Kensington and Chelsea is£894,000 with similar average outlay in most of centralLondon.
The East End is the area closest to the original Portof London, known for its high immigrant population, as well as for beingone of the poorest areas in London.The surrounding East London area saw much ofLondon’s early industrial development; now, brownfieldsites throughout the area are being redeveloped as part of the ThamesGateway including the LondonRiverside and Lower Lea Valley, which is being developed intothe Olympic Park for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics
Tourismis one of London’s prime industries and employs the equivalent of 350,000full-time workers in London in 2003, while annual expenditure by tourists isaround £15 billion. London attracts over 14 million internationalvisitors per year, making it the world’s most visited city. London attracts27 million overnight-stay visitors every year.
Transport is one of the four main areas of policyadministered by the Mayor of London, however the mayor’s financial control doesnot extend to the longer distance rail network that enters London. In 2007 he assumed responsibility forsome local lines, which now form the LondonOverground network, adding to the existing responsibility for the LondonUnderground, trams and buses. The public transport network is administered by Transport for London (TfL) and is one of themost extensive in the world. Cyclingis an increasingly popular way to get around London. The London Cycling Campaign lobbies for betterprovision.
The lines that formed the London Underground, as well astrams and buses, became part of an integrated transport system in 1933 when theLondon Passenger Transport Board(LPTB) or London Transport was created. Transport for London (TfL), is now thestatutory corporation responsible for most aspects of the transport system inGreater London, and is run by a board and a commissioner appointed by the Mayorof London.