London is the capital city of the United Kingdom and of England. It produces 17% of the UK's GDP and the City of London is one of the world's major financial centres. The former capital of a global empire, London is pre-eminent in the culture, communications, politics, finance, and arts of its country, and has considerable influence worldwide. Alongside New York City, Paris, and Tokyo, London is often listed among the four major global cities.

The estimated population, as of 1 January 2005, was 7,421,228 in Greater London, and several million more in London's metropolitan area, easily making London the largest city in the UK. Its population includes a very diverse range of peoples, cultures, and religions, making it one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Europe, and the world. Many of the world's wealthiest people are also permanent or temporary residents.

London is the home of many institutions, organisations and companies, and as such retains an important role in global affairs. It has a great number of important buildings, including world-famous museums, theatres, concert halls, airports, railway stations, palaces, and offices. It is also the home of many embassies, consulates and High Commissions.


Today, "London" usually refers to the conurbation known as Greater London, which is divided into thirty two London Boroughs, and the City of London. Historically, "London" referred to the square mile of the City of London at its heart, from which the city grew. Between 1889 and 1965 it referred to the former County of London which covered the area now known as Inner London.

There are other definitions of "London" for special purposes, such as the area within the London postal district; the area within the telephone area code 020; the area accessible by public transport using a Transport for London Travelcard; the area delimited by the M25 orbital motorway; and the London commuter belt.

The coordinates of the centre of London (traditionally considered to be Charing Cross, near Trafalgar Square) are approximately 51°30′ N 0°8′ W. The Romans marked the centre of Londinium with the London Stone in the City.


Although there is very little remaining evidence left of any pre-Roman settlement, the name London comes from the Latin name Londinium, as London was founded by the Romans during their reign over the island. This fortified settlement was the capital of the Roman province of Britannia.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Londinium was abandoned and a Saxon town named Lundenwic was established approximately one mile to the west in what is now Aldwych, in the 7th century AD. The old Roman city was then re-occupied during the late 9th or early 10th century.

Westminster was once a distinct town, and has been the seat of the English royal court and government since the mediæval era. Eventually, Westminster and London grew together and formed the basis of London, becoming England's largest – though not capital – city (Winchester was the capital city of England until the 12th century).

London has grown steadily over centuries, surrounding and making suburbs of neighbouring villages and towns, farmland, countryside, meadows and woodlands, spreading in every direction. From the 16th to the early 20th centuries, London flourished as the capital of the British Empire.

In 1666, the Great Fire of London swept through and destroyed a large part of the City of London. Re-building took over 10 years, but London's growth accelerated in the 18th century and by the early 19th century it was the largest city in the world.

London's local government system struggled to cope with this rapid growth, especially in providing the city with adequate infrastructure. In 1855 the Metropolitan Board of Works was created to provide London with infrastructure to cope with its growth. In 1889 the MBW was abolished, and the County of London was created which was administered by the London County Council, the first elected London- wide administrative body

In the early part of the 20th century, Londoners used coal for heating their homes, which produced large amounts of smoke. In combination with climatic conditions this often caused a characteristic smog, and London became known for its typical "London Fog", also known as "Pea Soupers". London is also sometimes referred to as "The Smoke", probably because of this. The Clean Air Act 1956 was introduced following the five-day "pea souper" of 5 December to 9 December 1952, which killed over 4,000 people, mandating the creating of "smokeless zones" where the use of "smokeless" fuels was required.

Probably the most significant changes to London in the last 100 years were as a result of the Blitz and other bombing by the German Luftwaffe that took place during World War II. The bombing killed over 30,000 Londoners and flattened large tracts of housing and other buildings across London. The rebuilding during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s was characterised by a wide range of architectural styles and has resulted in a lack of unity in architecture that has become part of London's character.

In 1965 the London County Council was superseded by the Greater London Council (GLC). Greater London incorporated many additional suburbs into the capital, including 20 of the current London boroughs. The GLC was abolished in 1986 after conflicts between the Thatcher government and its left wing controlling group led by Ken Livingstone. The GLC's powers were delegated to the boroughs. In 2000 the pendulum swung the other way with the creation of the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the election for London first mayor, which Ken Livingstone won as an independent candidate. However the mayor and the GLA have limited responsibilities and little financial independence.

Until their 1997 ceasefire, London was regularly a target for IRA bombers seeking to pressurise the British government into negotiations with Sinn Féin on Northern Ireland.

Big Ben
Buckingham Palace
Changing Of The Guard
Houses Of Parliament
St Pauls Cathedral
Westminster Abbey
Tower Bridge
Piccadilly Circus
Royal Albert Hall
British Museum
London Eye
Madame Tussauds