London is the capital city of England and the United Kingdom. It is the most
populous region, urban zone and metropolitan area in the United Kingdom. Standing
on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its
history going back to its founding by the Romans, who named it Londinium.
London's ancient core, the City of London, largely retains its 1.12 square mile
mediaeval boundaries and in 2011 had a resident population of 7,375, making it
the smallest city in England. Since at least the 19th century, the term London
has also referred to the metropolis developed around this core. The bulk of this
conurbation forms the London region and the Greater London administrative area.
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 one of the world's leading financial centres and has the fifth
largest metropolitan area GDP in the world.
London is a world cultural capital. It is the world's most visited city as
measured by international arrivals and has the world's largest city airport
system measured by passenger traffic. London's 43 universities form the
largest concentration of higher education in Europe. In 2012, London became
the first city to host the modern Summer Olympic Games three times. London has
a diverse range of peoples and cultures, and more than 300 languages are
spoken within its boundaries. London had a population of 8.6 million, making it
the 35th largest city in the world. London had the largest population of any
city in the world from around 1831 to 1925. London contains four World Heritage
Sites: the Tower of London; Kew Gardens; the site comprising the Palace of
Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret's Church; and the historic
settlement of Greenwich (in which the Royal Observatory, Greenwich marks the
Prime Meridian, 0° longitude, and GMT). Other famous landmarks include
Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, St Paul's Cathedral,
Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, and The Shard. London is home to numerous
museums, galleries, libraries, sporting events and other cultural institutions,
including the British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, British Library
and 40 West End theatres. The London Underground is the oldest underground
railway network in the world.