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Capital city of England and the United Kingdom
This article is about the capital city of England and the United Kingdom. For other uses, see London (disambiguation).
London is an ancient name, already attested in the first century AD, usually in the Latinised form Londinium; for example, handwritten Roman tablets recovered in the city originating from AD 65/70–80 include the word Londinio ('in London').
Modern scientific analyses of the name must account for the origins of the different forms found in early sources: Latin (usually Londinium), Old English (usually Lunden), and Welsh (usually Llundein), with reference to the known developments over time of sounds in those different languages. It is agreed that the name came into these languages from Common Brythonic; recent work tends to reconstruct the lost Celtic form of the name as *Londonjon or something similar. This was adapted into Latin as Londinium and borrowed into Old English.
The toponymy of the Common Brythonic form is debated. Prominent was Richard Coates's 1998 argument that it derived from pre-Celtic Old European *(p)lowonida, meaning "river too wide to ford". Coates suggested this was a name given to the part of the River Thames that flows through London, from which the settlement gained the Celtic form of its name, *Lowonidonjon. However, most work has accepted a plain Celtic origin. Recent studies favour an explanation of a Celtic derivative of a Proto-Indo-European root *lendh- ('sink, cause to sink'), combined with the Celtic suffix *-injo- or *-onjo- (used to form place-names). Peter Schrijver has specifically suggested that the name originally meant "place that floods (periodically, tidally)".
In 1993, remains of a Bronze Age bridge were found on the south foreshore upstream from Vauxhall Bridge. This either crossed the Thames or reached a now-lost island in it. Two of the timbers were radiocarbon dated to 1750–1285 BCE.
In 2010, foundations of a large timber structure, dated to 4800–4500 BCE, were found on the Thames's south foreshore downstream from Vauxhall Bridge. The function of the mesolithic structure is unclear. Both structures are on the south bank of the Thames, where the now-underground River Effra flows into the Thames.
Despite the evidence of scattered Brythonic settlements in the area, the first major settlement was founded by the Romans about four years after the invasion of 43 AD. This only lasted until about 61 AD, when the Iceni tribe led by Queen Boudica stormed it and burnt it to the ground. The next planned incarnation of Londinium prospered, superseding Colchester as capital of the Roman province of Britannia in 100. At its height in the 2nd century, Roman London had a population of about 60,000.
Anglo-Saxon and Viking-period London
With the early 5th-century collapse of Roman rule, London ceased to be a capital and the walled city of Londinium was effectively abandoned, although Roman civilisation continued around St Martin-in-the-Fields until about 450. From about 500, an Anglo-Saxon settlement known as Lundenwic developed slightly west of the old Roman city. By about 680 the city had become a major port again, but there is little evidence of large-scale production. From the 820s repeated Viking assaults brought decline. Three are recorded; those in 851 and 886 succeeded, while the last, in 994, was rebuffed.
The Vikings applied Danelaw over much of eastern and northern England, its boundary running roughly from London to Chester as an area of political and geographical control imposed by the Viking incursions formally agreed by the Danishwarlord, Guthrum and the West Saxon king Alfred the Great in 886. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that Alfred "refounded" London in 886. Archaeological research shows this involved abandonment of Lundenwic and a revival of life and trade within the old Roman walls. London then grew slowly until a dramatic increase in about 950.
In the 12th century, the institutions of central government, which had hitherto followed the royal English court around the country, grew in size and sophistication and became increasingly fixed, for most purposes at Westminster, although the royal treasury, having been moved from Winchester, came to rest in the Tower. While the City of Westminster developed into a true governmental capital, its distinct neighbour, the City of London, remained England's largest city and principal commercial centre and flourished under its own unique administration, the Corporation of London. In 1100, its population was some 18,000; by 1300 it had grown to nearly 100,000. Disaster struck in the form of the Black Death in the mid-14th century, when London lost nearly a third of its population. London was the focus of the Peasants' Revolt in 1381.
London was also a centre of England's Jewish population before their expulsion by Edward I in 1290. Violence against Jews occurred in 1190, when it was rumoured that the new king had ordered their massacre after they had presented themselves at his coronation. In 1264 during the Second Barons' War, Simon de Montfort's rebels killed 500 Jews while attempting to seize records of debts.
Map of London in 1593. There is only one bridge across the Thames, but parts of Southwark on the south bank of the river have been developed.
Yet English maritime enterprise hardly reached beyond the seas of north-west Europe. The commercial route to Italy and the Mediterranean was normally through Antwerp and over the Alps; any ships passing through the Strait of Gibraltar to or from England were likely to be Italian or Ragusan. The reopening of the Netherlands to English shipping in January 1565 spurred a burst of commercial activity. The Royal Exchange was founded.Mercantilism grew and monopoly traders such as the East India Company were founded as trade expanded to the New World. London became the main North Sea port, with migrants arriving from England and abroad. The population rose from about 50,000 in 1530 to about 225,000 in 1605.
In 1637, the government of Charles I attempted to reform administration in the London area. This called for the Corporation of the city to extend its jurisdiction and administration over expanding areas around the city. Fearing an attempt by the Crown to diminish the Liberties of London, coupled with a lack of interest in administering these additional areas or concern by city guilds of having to share power, caused the Corporation's "The Great Refusal", a decision which largely continues to account for the unique governmental status of the City.
In the English Civil War the majority of Londoners supported the Parliamentary cause. After an initial advance by the Royalists in 1642, culminating in the battles of Brentford and Turnham Green, London was surrounded by a defensive perimeter wall known as the Lines of Communication. The lines were built by up to 20,000 people, and were completed in under two months.
The fortifications failed their only test when the New Model Army entered London in 1647, and they were levelled by Parliament the same year.
London was plagued by disease in the early 17th century, culminating in the Great Plague of 1665–1666, which killed up to 100,000 people, or a fifth of the population.
In 1762, George III acquired Buckingham House, which was enlarged over the next 75 years. During the 18th century, London was said to be dogged by crime, and the Bow Street Runners were established in 1750 as a professional police force. A total of more than 200 offences were punishable by death, including petty theft. Epidemics during the 1720s and 30s saw most children born in the city die before reaching their fifth birthday.
Coffee-houses became a popular place to debate ideas, as growing literacy and development of the printing press made news widely available, with Fleet Street becoming the centre of the British press. The invasion of Amsterdam by Napoleonic armies led many financiers to relocate to London and the first London international issue was arranged in 1817. Around the same time, the Royal Navy became the world's leading war fleet, acting as a major deterrent to potential economic adversaries. The repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 was specifically aimed at weakening Dutch economic power. London then overtook Amsterdam as the leading international financial centre.
According to Samuel Johnson:
You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.
With the onset of the Industrial Revolution in Britain, an unprecedented growth in urbanisation took place, and the number of High Streets (the primary street for retail in Britain) rapidly grew. London was the world's largest city from about 1831 to 1925, with a population density of 325 per hectare. In addition to the growing number of stores selling goods such as Harding, Howell & Co. on Pall Mall—a contender for the first department store—the streets had scores of street sellers loudly advertising their goods and services. London's overcrowded conditions led to cholera epidemics, claiming 14,000 lives in 1848, and 6,000 in 1866. Rising traffic congestion led to the creation of the world's first local urban rail network. The Metropolitan Board of Works oversaw infrastructure expansion in the capital and some surrounding counties; it was abolished in 1889 when the London County Council was created out of county areas surrounding the capital.
Greater London's population declined in the decades after the Second World War, from an estimated peak of 8.6 million in 1939 to around 6.8 million in the 1980s. The principal ports for London moved downstream to Felixstowe and Tilbury, with the London Docklands area becoming a focus for regeneration, including the Canary Wharf development. This was born out of London's increasing role as an international financial centre in the 1980s. The Thames Barrier was completed in the 1980s to protect London against tidal surges from the North Sea.
In 2008, Time named London alongside New York City and Hong Kong as Nylonkong, hailing them as the world's three most influential global cities. In January 2015, Greater London's population was estimated to be 8.63 million, its highest since 1939. During the Brexit referendum in 2016, the UK as a whole decided to leave the European Union, but most London constituencies voted for remaining.
The administration of London is formed of two tiers: a citywide, strategic tier and a local tier. Citywide administration is coordinated by the Greater London Authority (GLA), while local administration is carried out by 33 smaller authorities. The GLA consists of two elected components: the mayor of London, who has executive powers, and the London Assembly, which scrutinises the mayor's decisions and can accept or reject the mayor's budget proposals each year.
The headquarters of the GLA is City Hall, Newham. The mayor since 2016 has been Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of a major Western capital. The mayor's statutory planning strategy is published as the London Plan, which was most recently revised in 2011. The local authorities are the councils of the 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation. They are responsible for most local services, such as local planning, schools, social services, local roads and refuse collection. Certain functions, such as waste management, are provided through joint arrangements. In 2009–2010 the combined revenue expenditure by London councils and the GLA amounted to just over £22 billion (£14.7 billion for the boroughs and £7.4 billion for the GLA).
Crime rates vary widely across different areas of London. Crime figures are made available nationally at Local Authority and Ward level. In 2015, there were 118 homicides, a 25.5% increase over 2014. The Metropolitan Police have made detailed crime figures, broken down by category at borough and ward level, available on their website since 2000.
Recorded crime has been rising in London, notably violent crime and murder by stabbing and other means have risen. There were 50 murders from the start of 2018 to mid April 2018. Funding cuts to police in London are likely to have contributed to this, though other factors are also involved.
Forty per cent of Greater London is covered by the London post town, in which 'LONDON' forms part of postal addresses. The London telephone area code (020) covers a larger area, similar in size to Greater London, although some outer districts are excluded and some just outside included. The Greater London boundary has been aligned to the M25 motorway in places.
Greater London encompasses a total area of 611 square miles (1,583 km2) an area which had a population of 7,172,036 in 2001 and a population density of 11,760 inhabitants per square mile (4,542/km2). The extended area known as the London Metropolitan Region or the London Metropolitan Agglomeration, comprises a total area of 3,236 square miles (8,382 km2) has a population of 13,709,000 and a population density of 3,900 inhabitants per square mile (1,510/km2).
Since the Victorian era the Thames has been extensively embanked, and many of its London tributaries now flow underground. The Thames is a tidal river, and London is vulnerable to flooding. The threat has increased over time because of a slow but continuous rise in high water level caused by climate change and by the slow 'tilting' of the British Isles (up in Scotland and Northern Ireland and down in southern parts of England, Wales and Ireland) as a result of post-glacial rebound.
In 1974 a decade of work began on the construction of the Thames Barrier across the Thames at Woolwich to deal with this threat. While the barrier is expected to function as designed until roughly 2070, concepts for its future enlargement or redesign are already being discussed.
London has had a small number of earthquakes over the years, notably those of 1750 which macroseismic information indicates had their epicentres directly under the city. In 2018, two active faults were discovered running parallel to each other, directly under the centre of the city. Furthermore, the city has been damaged at least twice (with fatalities) in the earthquakes of 1382 and 1580. Those earthquakes had their epicentres under the English Channel. London's building code is being redrawn so that every new structure must be able to withstand an earthquake of at least 6.5 on the Richter scale.
London has a temperate oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb). Rainfall records have been kept in the city since at least 1697, when records began at Kew. At Kew, the most rainfall in one month is 7.4 inches (189 mm) in November 1755 and the least is 0 inches (0 mm) in both December 1788 and July 1800. Mile End also had 0 inches (0 mm) in April 1893. The wettest year on record is 1903, with a total fall of 38.1 inches (969 mm) and the driest is 1921, with a total fall of 12.1 inches (308 mm). The average annual precipitation amounts to about 600 mm, which is half the annual rainfall of New York City, but also lower than Rome, Lisbon, and Sydney, Australia. Despite its relatively low annual precipitation, London still receives 109.6 rainy days on the 1.0 mm threshold annually. However, London is vulnerable to climate change in the United Kingdom, and there is increasing concern among hydrological experts that London households may run out of water before 2050.
Temperature extremes in London range from 40.2 °C (104.4 °F) at Heathrow on 19 July 2022 down to −16.1 °C (3.0 °F) at Northolt on 1 January 1962. Records for atmospheric pressure have been kept at London since 1692. The highest pressure ever reported is 1,049.8 millibars (31.00 inHg) on 20 January 2020.
Summers are generally warm, sometimes hot. London's average July high is 23.5 °C (74.3 °F). On average each year, London experiences 31 days above 25 °C (77.0 °F) and 4.2 days above 30.0 °C (86.0 °F). During the 2003 European heat wave prolonged heat led to hundreds of heat-related deaths. There was also a previous spell of 15 consecutive days above 32.2 °C (90.0 °F) in England in 1976 which also caused many heat related deaths. A previous temperature of 37.8 °C (100.0 °F) in August 1911 at the Greenwich station was later disregarded as non-standard. Droughts can also, occasionally, be a problem, especially in summer, most recently in summer 2018, and with much drier than average conditions prevailing from May to December. However, the most consecutive days without rain was 73 days in the spring of 1893.
Winters are generally cool with little temperature variation. Heavy snow is rare but snow usually falls at least once each winter. Spring and autumn can be pleasant. As a large city, London has a considerable urban heat island effect, making the centre of London at times 5 °C (9 °F) warmer than the suburbs and outskirts. This can be seen below when comparing London Heathrow, 15 miles (24 km) west of London, with the London Weather Centre.
Places within London's vast urban area are identified using district names, such as Mayfair, Southwark, Wembley, and Whitechapel. These are either informal designations, reflect the names of villages that have been absorbed by sprawl, or are superseded administrative units such as parishes or former boroughs.
Such names have remained in use through tradition, each referring to a local area with its own distinctive character, but without official boundaries. Since 1965 Greater London has been divided into 32 London boroughs in addition to the ancient City of London. The City of London is the main financial district, and Canary Wharf has recently developed into a new financial and commercial hub in the Docklands to the east.
The West End is London's main entertainment and shopping district, attracting tourists.West London includes expensive residential areas where properties can sell for tens of millions of pounds. The average price for properties in Kensington and Chelsea is over £2 million with a similarly high outlay in most of central London.
London's buildings are too diverse to be characterised by any particular architectural style, partly because of their varying ages. Many grand houses and public buildings, such as the National Gallery, are constructed from Portland stone. Some areas of the city, particularly those just west of the centre, are characterised by white stucco or whitewashed buildings. Few structures in central London pre-date the Great Fire of 1666, these being a few trace Roman remains, the Tower of London and a few scattered Tudor survivors in the city. Further out is, for example, the Tudor-periodHampton Court Palace, England's oldest surviving Tudor palace, built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in about 1515.
The east wing public façade of Buckingham Palace was built between 1847 and 1850; it was remodelled to its present form in 1913.
Among other inhabitants of London are 10,000 red foxes, so that there are now 16 foxes for every square mile (6 per square kilometre) of London. These urban foxes are noticeably bolder than their country cousins, sharing the pavement with pedestrians and raising cubs in people's backyards. Foxes have even sneaked into the Houses of Parliament, where one was found asleep on a filing cabinet. Another broke into the grounds of Buckingham Palace, reportedly killing some of Queen Elizabeth II's prized pink flamingos. Generally, however, foxes and city folk appear to get along. A survey in 2001 by the London-based Mammal Society found that 80 per cent of 3,779 respondents who volunteered to keep a diary of garden mammal visits liked having them around. This sample cannot be taken to represent Londoners as a whole.
Herds of red and fallow deer also roam freely within much of Richmond and Bushy Park. A cull takes place each November and February to ensure numbers can be sustained. Epping Forest is also known for its fallow deer, which can frequently be seen in herds to the north of the Forest. A rare population of melanistic, black fallow deer is also maintained at the Deer Sanctuary near Theydon Bois. Muntjac deer, which escaped from deer parks at the turn of the 20th century, are also found in the forest. While Londoners are accustomed to wildlife such as birds and foxes sharing the city, more recently urban deer have started becoming a regular feature, and whole herds of fallow deer come into residential areas at night to take advantage of London's green spaces.
The 2011 census recorded that 2,998,264 people or 36.7% of London's population were foreign-born making it the city with the second largest immigrant population after New York, in terms of absolute numbers. About 69% of children born in London in 2015 had at least one parent who was born abroad. The table to the right shows the commonest countries of birth of London residents. Note that some of the German-born population, in 18th position, are British citizens from birth born to parents serving in the British Armed Forces in Germany.
Increasing industrialisation swelled London's population throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, and for some time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was the most populous city in the world. It peaked at 8,615,245 in 1939, just before the outbreak of the Second World War, but had declined to 7,192,091 by the 2001 Census. However, the population then grew by just over a million between the 2001 and 2011 Censuses, to reach 8,173,941 in the latter.
However, London's continuous urban area extends beyond Greater London and numbered 9,787,426 people in 2011, while its wider metropolitan area had a population of 12–14 million, depending on the definition used. According to Eurostat, London is the second most populousmetropolitan area in Europe. A net 726,000 immigrants arrived there in the period 1991–2001.
The region covers 610 square miles (1,579 km2), giving a population density of 13,410 inhabitants per square mile (5,177/km2) more than ten times that of any other British region. In population terms, London is the 19th largest city and the 18th largest metropolitan region.
Age structure and median age
Children younger than 14 constituted 20.6% of the population in Outer London in 2018, and 18% in Inner London. The 15–24 age group was 11.1% in Outer and 10.2% in Inner London, those aged 25–44 years 30.6% in Outer London and 39.7% in Inner London, those aged 45–64 years 24% and 20.7% in Outer and Inner London respectively. Those aged 65 and over are 13.6% in Outer London, but only 9.3% in Inner London.
The median age of London in 2018 was 36.5, which was younger than the UK median of 40.3.
As of 2007, one fifth of primary school across London were from ethnic minorities. Altogether at the 2011 census, of London's 1,624,768 population aged 0 to 15, 46.4% were White, 19.8% Asian, 19% Black, 10.8% Mixed and 4% another ethnic group. In January 2005, a survey of London's ethnic and religious diversity claimed that more than 300 languages were spoken in London and more than 50 non-indigenous communities had populations of more than 10,000. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2010, London's foreign-born population was 2,650,000 (33%), up from 1,630,000 in 1997.
The 2011 census showed that 36.7% of Greater London's population were born outside the UK. Some of the German-born population were likely to be British nationals born to parents serving in the British Armed Forces in Germany. Estimates by the Office for National Statistics indicate that the five largest foreign-born groups living in London in the period July 2009 to June 2010 were born in India, Poland, the Republic of Ireland, Bangladesh and Nigeria.
According to the 2011 Census, the largest religious groupings were Christians (48.4%), followed by those of no religion (20.7%), Muslims (12.4%), no response (8.5%), Hindus (5.0%), Jews (1.8%), Sikhs (1.5%), Buddhists (1.0%) and other (0.6%).
Important national and royal ceremonies are shared between St Paul's and Westminster Abbey. The Abbey is not to be confused with nearby Westminster Cathedral, which is the largest Roman Catholic cathedral in England and Wales. Despite the prevalence of Anglican churches, observance is low within the denomination. Church attendance continues a long, steady decline, according to Church of England statistics.
Large Hindu communities are found in the north-western boroughs of Harrow and Brent, the latter hosting what was until 2006, Europe's largest Hindu temple, Neasden Temple. London is also home to 44 Hindu temples, including the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir London. There are Sikh communities in East and West London, particularly in Southall, home to one of the largest Sikh populations and the largest Sikh temple outside India.
Cockney is an accent heard across London, mainly spoken by working-class and lower-middle class Londoners. It is mainly attributed to the East End and wider East London, having originated there in the 18th century, although it has been suggested that the Cockney style of speech is much older. Some features of Cockney include, Th-fronting (pronouncing "th" as "f"), example, "some fings in life are bad" (heard in opening of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" in Monty Python's Life of Brian), "th" inside a word is pronounced with a "v" (brother becomes brovva), H-dropping, example 'Ampshire for Hampshire (as Eliza Doolittle said in My Fair Lady), and, like most English accents, a Cockney accent drops the "r" after a vowel, for example, "car" is pronounced "cah". John Camden Hotten, in his Slang Dictionary of 1859, makes reference to Cockney "use of a peculiar slang language" (Cockney rhyming slang) when describing the costermongers of the East End. Examples include: using the word "treacle" to mean sweetheart (rhymes with Treacle tart), and "porkies" to mean lies (rhymes with Pork pies). Since the start of the 21st century the Cockney dialect is less common in parts of the East End itself, with modern strongholds including other parts of London and suburbs in the home counties.
Estuary English is an intermediate accent between Cockney and Received Pronunciation. It is widely spoken by people of all classes in London and south-eastern England, associated with the River Thames and its estuary.
Multicultural London English (MLE) is a multiethnolect becoming increasingly common in multicultural areas amongst young, working-class people from diverse backgrounds. It is a fusion of an array of ethnic accents, in particular Afro-Caribbean and South Asian, with a significant Cockney influence.
The City of London, one of the largest financial centres in the world
London's gross regional product in 2019 was £503 billion, around a quarter of UK GDP. London has five major business districts: the city, Westminster, Canary Wharf, Camden & Islington and Lambeth & Southwark. One way to get an idea of their relative importance is to look at relative amounts of office space: Greater London had 27 million m2 of office space in 2001, and the City contains the most space, with 8 million m2 of office space. London has some of the highest real estate prices in the world. London is the world's most expensive office market according to world property journal (2015) report. As of 2015 the residential property in London is worth $2.2 trillion – the same value as that of Brazil's annual GDP. The city has the highest property prices of any European city according to the Office for National Statistics and the European Office of Statistics. On average the price per square metre in central London is €24,252 (April 2014). This is higher than the property prices in other G8 European capital cities; Berlin €3,306, Rome €6,188 and Paris €11,229.
London's finance industry is based in the City of London and Canary Wharf, the two major business districts in London. London is one of the pre-eminent financial centres of the world as the most important location for international finance. London took over as a major financial centre shortly after 1795 when the Dutch Republic collapsed before the Napoleonic armies. For many bankers established in Amsterdam (e.g. Hope, Baring), this was only time to move to London. Also, London's market-centred system (as opposed to the bank-centred one in Amsterdam) grew more dominant in the 18th century. The London financial elite was strengthened by a strong Jewish community from all over Europe capable of mastering the most sophisticated financial tools of the time. This unique concentration of talents accelerated the transition from the Commercial Revolution to the Industrial Revolution. Writing about capitalism and the utility of diversity in his book on English society, French philosopher Voltaire expounded upon why England at that time was more prosperous in comparison to the country's less religiously tolerant European neighbours:
Take a view of the Royal Exchange in London, a place more venerable than many courts of justice, where the representatives of all nations meet for the benefit of mankind. There the Jew, the Mahometan , and the Christian transact together, as though they all professed the same religion, and give the name of infidel to none but bankrupts. There the Presbyterian confides in the Anabaptist, and the Churchman depends on the Quaker's word. If one religion only were allowed in England, the Government would very possibly become arbitrary; if there were but two, the people would cut one another's throats; but as there are such a multitude, they all live happy and in peace.
The Bank of England, established in 1694, is the model on which most modern central banks are based.
By the mid-19th century, London was the leading financial centre, and at the end of the century over half the world's trade was financed in British currency. Still, as of 2016 London tops the world rankings on the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI), and it ranked second in A.T. Kearney's 2018 Global Cities Index.
London's largest industry is finance, and its financial exports make it a large contributor to the UK's balance of payments. Around 325,000 people were employed in financial services in London until mid-2007. London has over 480 overseas banks, more than any other city in the world. It is also the world's biggest currency trading centre, accounting for some 37 per cent of the $5.1 trillion average daily volume, according to the BIS. Over 85 per cent (3.2 million) of the employed population of greater London works in the services industries. Because of its prominent global role, London's economy had been affected by the financial crisis of 2007–2008. However, by 2010 the city had recovered, put in place new regulatory powers, proceeded to regain lost ground and re-established London's economic dominance. Along with professional services headquarters, the City of London is home to the Bank of England, London Stock Exchange, and Lloyd's of London insurance market.
Over half the UK's top 100 listed companies (the FTSE 100) and over 100 of Europe's 500 largest companies have their headquarters in central London. Over 70 per cent of the FTSE 100 are within London's metropolitan area, and 75 per cent of Fortune 500 companies have offices in London. In a 1992 report commissioned by the London Stock Exchange, Sir Adrian Cadbury, chairman of his family's confectionery company Cadbury, produced the Cadbury Report, a code of best practice which served as a basis for reform of corporate governance around the world.
Media companies are concentrated in London, and the media distribution industry is London's second most competitive sector. The BBC is a significant employer, while other broadcasters also have headquarters around the city. Many national newspapers are edited in London; the term Fleet Street (where most national newspapers operated) remains a metonym for the British national press. 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 Port of London is the second largest in the UK, handling 45 million tonnes of cargo each year.
The gas and electricity distribution networks that manage and operate the towers, cables and pressure systems that deliver energy to consumers across the city are managed by National Grid plc, SGN and UK Power Networks.
London is one of the leading tourist destinations in the world and in 2015 was ranked as the most visited city in the world with over 65 million visits. It is also the top city in the world by visitor cross-border spending, estimated at US$20.23 billion in 2015. Tourism is one of London's prime industries, employing 700,000 full-time workers in 2016, and contributes £36 billion a year to the economy. The city accounts for 54% of all inbound visitor spending in the UK. As of 2016 London was the world top city destination as ranked by TripAdvisor users.
In 2015 the top most-visited attractions in the UK were all in London. The top 10 most visited attractions were: (with visits per venue)
Journeys in Greater London by mode from 1997 to 2018
Transport is one of the four main areas of policy administered by the Mayor of London, but the mayor's financial control does not extend to the longer-distance rail network that enters London. In 2007 the Mayor of London assumed responsibility for some local lines, which now form the London Overground network, adding to the existing responsibility for the London Underground, trams and buses. The public transport network is administered by Transport for London (TfL).
The lines that formed the London Underground, as well as trams and buses, became part of an integrated transport system in 1933 when the London Passenger Transport Board or London Transport was created. Transport for London is now the statutory corporation responsible for most aspects of the transport system in Greater London, and is run by a board and a commissioner appointed by the Mayor of London.
Gatwick Airport, south of London in West Sussex, handles flights to more destinations than any other UK airport and is the main base of easyJet, the UK's largest airline by number of passengers.
Stansted Airport, north-east of London in Essex, has flights that serve the greatest number of European destinations of any UK airport and is the main base of Ryanair, the world's largest international airline by number of international passengers.
London City Airport, the most central airport and the one with the shortest runway, in Newham, East London, is focused on business travellers, with a mixture of full-service short-haul scheduled flights and considerable business jet traffic.
Southend Airport, east of London in Essex, is a smaller, regional airport that caters for short-haul flights on a limited, though growing, number of airlines. In 2017, international passengers made up over 95% of the total at Southend, the highest proportion of any London airport.
The London Underground, commonly referred to as the Tube or just the Underground, is the oldest and third longestmetro system in the world. The system serves 272 stations. and was formed from several private companies, including the world's first underground electric line, the City and South London Railway. It dates from 1863.
There are 368 railway stations in the London Travelcard Zones on an extensive above-ground suburban railway network. South London, particularly, has a high concentration of railways as it has fewer Underground lines. Most rail lines terminate around the centre of London, running into eighteen terminal stations, with the exception of the Thameslink trains connecting Bedford in the north and Brighton in the south via Luton and Gatwick airports. London has Britain's busiest station by number of passengers—Waterloo, with over 184 million people using the interchange station complex (which includes Waterloo East station) each year.Clapham Junction is the busiest station in Europe by the number of trains passing.
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 and into the Home Counties with a branch to Heathrow Airport. It was Europe's biggest construction project, with a £15 billion projected cost.
London is the centre of the National Rail network, with 70 per cent of rail journeys starting or ending in London.King's Cross station and Euston station, which are both in London, are the starting points of the East Coast Main Line and the West Coast Main Line – the two main railway lines in Britain. Like suburban rail services, regional and inter-city trains depart from several termini around the city centre, directly linking London with most of Great Britain's major cities and towns.
Although rail freight levels are far down compared to their height, significant quantities of cargo are also carried into and out of London by rail; chiefly building materials and landfill waste. As a major hub of the British railway network, London's tracks also carry large amounts of freight for the other regions, such as container freight from the Channel Tunnel and English Channel ports, and nuclear waste for reprocessing at Sellafield.
London's bus network runs 24 hours a day with about 9,300 vehicles, over 675 bus routes and about 19,000 bus stops. In 2019/1920 the network had over 2 billion commuter trips per year. Since 2010 and average of £1.2 billion is taken in revenue each year. London has one of the largest wheelchair-accessible networks in the world and from the third quarter of 2007, became more accessible to hearing and visually impaired passengers as audio-visual announcements were introduced.
London's coach hub is Victoria Coach Station, an Art Deco building opened in 1932. The coach station was initially run by a group of coach companies under the name of London Coastal Coaches; however, in 1970 the service and station were included in the nationalisation of the country's coach services, becoming part of the National Bus Company. In 1988, the coach station was purchased by London Transport which then became Transport for London. Victoria Coach Station has over 14 million passengers a year and provides services across the UK and continental Europe.
London has a modern tram network, known as Tramlink, centred on Croydon in South London. The network has 39 stops and four routes, and carried 28 million people in 2013. Since June 2008, Transport for London has completely owned and operated Tramlink.
London's first and to date only cable car is the London Cable Car, which opened in June 2012. The cable car crosses the Thames and links Greenwich Peninsula with the Royal Docks in the east of the city. It is integrated with London's Oyster Card ticketing system, although the Emirates Air Line fares are not included in the Oyster daily capping. It cost £60 million to build and can carry up to 2,500 passengers per hour in each direction at peak times. Similar to the London Cycle Hire Scheme bike hire scheme, the cable car was sponsored in a 10-year deal by the airline Emirates.
Santander Cycle Hire near Victoria in Central London
In the Greater London Area, around 670,000 people use a bike every day, meaning around 7% of the total population of around 8.8 million use a bike on an average day. This relatively low percentage of bicycle users may be due to the poor investments for cycling in London of about £110 million per year, equating to around £12 per person, which can be compared to £22 in the Netherlands.
Cycling has become an increasingly popular way to get around London. The launch of a bicycle hire scheme in July 2010 was successful and generally well received.
Port and river boats
The Port of London, once the largest in the world, is now only the second-largest in the United Kingdom, handling 45 million tonnes of cargo each year as of 2009. Most of this cargo passes through the Port of Tilbury, outside the boundary of Greater London.
Although the majority of journeys in central London are made by public transport, car travel is common in the suburbs. The inner ring road (around the city centre), the North and South Circular roads (just within the suburbs), and the outer orbital motorway (the M25, just outside the built-up area in most places) encircle the city and are intersected by a number of busy radial routes—but very few motorways penetrate into inner London. A plan for a comprehensive network of motorways throughout the city (the Ringways Plan) was prepared in the 1960s but was mostly cancelled in the early 1970s. The M25 is the second-longest ring-road motorway in Europe at 117 miles (188 km) long. The A1 and M1 connect London to Leeds, and Newcastle and Edinburgh.
The hackney carriage (black cab) is a common sight on London streets. Although traditionally black, this is not a requirement with some painted in other colours or bearing advertising.
London is notorious for its traffic congestion; in 2009, the average speed of a car in the rush hour was recorded at 10.6 mph (17.1 km/h). In 2003, a congestion charge was introduced to reduce traffic volumes in the city centre. With a few exceptions, motorists are required to pay to drive within a defined zone encompassing much of central London. Motorists who are residents of the defined zone can buy a greatly reduced season pass. The London government initially expected the Congestion Charge Zone to increase daily peak period Underground and bus users, reduce road traffic, increase traffic speeds, and reduce queues; however, the increase in private for hire vehicles has affected these expectations. Over the course of several years, the average number of cars entering the centre of London on a weekday was reduced from 195,000 to 125,000 cars – a 35-per-cent reduction of vehicles driven per day.
London is a major global centre of higher education teaching and research and has the largest concentration of higher education institutes in Europe. According to the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, London has the greatest concentration of top class universities in the world and its international student population of around 110,000 is larger than any other city in the world. A 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers report termed London the global capital of higher education.
Leisure is a major part of the London economy. A 2003 report attributed a quarter of the entire UK leisure economy to London at 25.6 events per 1000 people. The city is one of the four fashion capitals of the world, and, according to official statistics, is the world's third-busiest film production centre, presents more live comedy than any other city, and has the biggest theatre audience of any city in the world.
London is home to many museums, galleries, and other institutions, many of which are free of admission charges and are major tourist attractions as well as playing a research role. The first of these to be established was the British Museum in Bloomsbury, in 1753. Originally containing antiquities, natural history specimens, and the national library, the museum now has 7 million artefacts from around the globe. In 1824, the National Gallery was founded to house the British national collection of Western paintings; this now occupies a prominent position in Trafalgar Square.
Close to Richmond Park is Kew Gardens, which has the world's largest collection of living plants. In 2003, the gardens were put on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. There are also parks administered by London's borough Councils, including Victoria Park in the East End and Battersea Park in the centre. Some more informal, semi-natural open spaces also exist, including the 320-hectare (790-acre) Hampstead Heath of North London, and Epping Forest, which covers 2,476 hectares (6,118 acres) in the east. Both are controlled by the City of London Corporation. Hampstead Heath incorporates Kenwood House, a former stately home and a popular location in the summer months when classical musical concerts are held by the lake, attracting thousands of people every weekend to enjoy the music, scenery and fireworks. Epping Forest is a popular venue for various outdoor activities, including mountain biking, walking, horse riding, golf, angling, and orienteering.
One of London's best-known annual sports competitions is the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, held at the All England Club in the south-western suburb of Wimbledon since 1877. Played in late June to early July, it is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and widely considered the most prestigious. Founded in London in 1881, Slazenger has provided tennis balls for Wimbledon since 1902, the oldest sponsorship in sport.
^According to the European Statistical Agency (Eurostat), London had the largest Larger Urban Zone in the EU. Eurostat uses the sum of the populations of the contiguous urban core and the surrounding commuting zone as its definition.
^London is not a city in the usual UK sense of having city status granted by the Crown.
^According to the Collins English Dictionary definition of 'the seat of government', London is not the capital of England, as England does not have its own government. According to the Oxford English Reference Dictionary definition of 'the most important town' and many other authorities.
^Imperial College London was a constituent college of the University of London between 1908 and 2007. Degrees during this time were awarded by the federal university; however, the college now issues its own degrees.
^Mills, AD (2010). Dictionary of London Place Names. Oxford University Press. p. 152. Of course until relatively recent times the name London referred only to the City of London with even Westminster remaining a separate entity. But when the County of London was created in 1888, the name often came to be rather loosely used for this much larger area, which was also sometimes referred to as Greater London from about this date. However, in 1965 Greater London was newly defined as a much enlarged area.
^Burgon, John William (1839). The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Gresham, Founder of the Royal Exchange: Including Notices of Many of His Contemporaries. With Illustrations, Volume 2. London: R. Jennings. pp. 80–81. ISBN978-1277223903.
^Flintham, David. "London". Fortified Places. Archived from the original on 16 January 2009. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
^Harrington, Peter (2003). English Civil War Fortifications 1642–51, Volume 9 of Fortress, 9, Osprey Publishing, ISBN1-84176-604-6. p. 57
^Flintham, David. "London". Fortified Places. Archived from the original on 16 January 2009. Retrieved 28 March 2021.Razzell, Peter; Razzell, Edward, eds. (1 January 1996). The English Civil War: A contemporary account (v. 1). Wencelaus Hollar (Illustrator), Christopher Hill (Introduction). Caliban Books. ISBN978-1850660316.Gardiner, Samuel R. (18 December 2016). History of the Great Civil War, 1642-1649. Vol. 3. Forgotten Books (published 16 July 2017). p. 218. ISBN978-1334658464.
^Bracken, Gregory B. (2011). Walking Tour London: Sketches of the city's architectural treasures... Journey Through London's Urban Landscapes. Marshall Cavendish International. p. 10. ISBN9789814435369.