London is the capital of the United Kingdom (UK), and its largest city. It is also the city with the highest population in the UK. The population is just under 9 million. 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. The Romans bridged the river Thames and built a road network to connect Londinium with the rest of the country.
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 square miles. 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. 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.
5th century: end of Roman rule to 12th century change
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 dwindled. 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 change
Trade grew and the East India Company was founded as a monopoly trader. Trade expanded to the New World. London became the main North Sea port, and migrants went from England and abroad. The population rose from about 50,000 in 1530 to about 225,000 in 1605.
17th century change
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.
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 (which are not in the city, but are in London).
Modern era change
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).
Expansion of London change
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.
- AD 43 – Londinium is founded by the Romans.
- 61 – Londinium is sacked by Queen Boudica and the Iceni.
- 100 – Londinium becomes the capital of Roman Britain.
- 200 – The population is about 6,000.
- 410 – the end of Roman rule in Britain
- 8th century – London is captured by Vikings.
- 885 – King Alfred the Great recaptures the city and makes peace with the Viking leader Guthrum.
- 1045/50 – Westminster Abbey is rebuilt by Edward the Confessor who is buried there in January 1066.
- 1066 – William the Conqueror is crowned in Westminster Abbey.
- 1100 – The population is about 16,000.
- 1300 – The population of London has risen to 100,000.
- 1381 – the Peasants' Revolt – the first poll tax riots
- 1605 – The Gunpowder Plot is stopped.
- 1642 – The English Civil War starts.
- 1647 – London supports Cromwell's army.
- 1665 – the Great Plague of London
- 1666 – the Great Fire of London
- 1700s – the Georgian era (the time of George III)
- 1780 – the Gordon Riots
- 1900s – Canals, railways, bridges. British Empire.
- 1851 – The Great Exhibition is held at the Crystal Palace.
- 1908 – The Olympic Games take place in London.
- 1940/1941 – London was bombed by German planes during World War II: explosive and incendiary bombs. This was known as The Blitz.
- 1944/45 – London bombed by V-1 flying bomb and later the V2 rockets.
- 1948 – The Summer Olympic Games take place in London for the second time.
- 1966 – The Football World Cup final took place in London. It was won by England.
- 1990 – the Second Poll Tax Riots
- 2005 – The 7 July bombings on the London Underground and a bus. 52 people die and over 700 people are injured.
- 2012 – The Summer Olympic Games take place in London for a third time.
- 2017 – There were two terrorist attacks. The first happened in March on Westminster Bridge and Parliament Square. Five people were killed outside the Palace of Westminster, including the attacker and a police officer. 40 more people were injured. Another attack happened on London Bridge in June. Seven people were killed before the Metropolitan Police shot down the three attackers near Borough Market. The Islamic State has said they were responsible for both attacks.
- 2020 – COVID-19 did not affect London much until the Spring of 2020. From then until mid 2022, every aspect of life was affected. Government regulation of private life was almost unknown except in wartime (WWII). Many aspects of consumer activity have taken time to recover. Education of young people was interrupted, shops closed and all forms of live mass entertainment were banned.
Business and economy change
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 change
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 change
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.
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 change
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) change
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 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 of the 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. It is a new railway line running east to west through London, with a branch to Heathrow Airport. It is Europe's biggest construction project, with a £15 billion projected cost.
Sewage tunnel change
London's biggest tunnel has just been completed to take sewage from the capital to the East where it will be processed.
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.
|Climate data for Heathrow Airport|
|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  Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute |
London has twin and sister city agreements with these cities:
- Sister cities:
- Partner cities:
- Number 1 Poultry (ONE 94), Museum of London Archaeology, 2013. Archaeology Data Service, The University of York.
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- Office for National Statistics. 
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- Museum of London. 
- Leading European cities by gross domestic product in 2017/18. 
- Hingley, Richard 2018. Londinium: a biography: Roman London from its origins to the fifth century. London. ISBN 978-1-350-04730-3
- 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
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- Walter George Bell (1951). The Great Plague of London. p. 13.
- "BBC NEWS - INDEPTH - LONDON ATTACKS". news.bbc.co.uk.
- "London Travel Guide". Archived from the original on 2021-05-01. Retrieved 2021-05-02.
- "Crossrail opening date finally announced". 4 May 2022. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
- "Regional Map". Crossrail. 2021. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
- Lister, Richard (2 January 2012). "Crossrail's giant tunnelling machines unveiled". BBC News. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
- Leftly, Mark (23 October 2011). "Crossrail delayed to save £1bn". The Independent. London. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
- BBC  Inside London's hidden power tunnels.
- "1962". Trevor Harley. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
- "Search | Climate Data Online (CDO) | National Climatic Data Center (NCDC)". Archived from the original on 29 July 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
- "London Heathrow Airport". Met Office. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
- "Heathrow Airport Extreme Values". KNMI. Archived from the original on 2 February 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
- "Heathrow 1981–2010 mean maximum and minimum values". KNMI. Archived from the original on 16 April 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
- "Beijing, London to be sister cities". China Daily, 11 April 2006. Retrieved 6 June 2006.
- "Sister City - London". nyc.gov. Archived from the original on 14 January 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2007.
Other websites change
- London City Government
- WorldFlicks in London: Photos and interesting places on Google Maps. Archived 2008-02-13 at the Wayback Machine.
- Events in London
|Greater London • London • City of London|
Barking and Dagenham •
Hammersmith and Fulham •
Kensington and Chelsea •
Tower Hamlets •
Waltham Forest •