London’s history goes back to its founding by the Romans about seven years after the invasion of AD 43. Named Londinium, this early Roman settlement occupied a relatively small area, roughly equivalent to the size of today’s Hyde Park. In around AD60 it was destroyed by the Iceni led by their queen Boudica but was quickly rebuilt, growing rapidly over the following decades.
Down the centuries London continued to grow until its population peaked at 8.6 million in 1939. After the Second World War this total declined to around 6.8 million but by the1980s it began to increase again, encouraged by strong economic performance and a positive image that attracted new arrivals from all over the world.
At the turn of the 21st century, London hosted the Millennium Dome at Greenwich to mark the new century. This much derided attraction was soon overshadowed by the largest observation wheel in the world, the Millennium Wheel, or theLondon Eye. This was erected near the seat of British Government, the Palace of Westminster, as a temporary structure, but soon became a fixture, and now draws four million visitors a year
At London’s heart is the City, a square mile within ancient medieval boundaries and dominated by banks and finance houses. Since at least the 19th century, the name London has also referred to the metropolis developed around this core.
London contains four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London; Kew Gardens; the site comprising the seat of UK government, the Palace of Westminster plus Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church; and Greenwich, where the Royal Observatory marks the Prime Meridian, zero degrees longitude and Greenwich Mean Time.
Other famous landmarks include Buckingham Palace,which is the home of the monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II; the central hub known as Piccadilly Circus; and St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square and Wembley Stadium.
London is also home to numerous museums, galleries, libraries, sporting events and other cultural institutions, including the British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, British Library and 40 theatres. London is one of the greenest capitals in the world, with plenty of green and open spaces. At the last count, there were more than 3,000 parks and open spaces to enjoy.
Public transport routes into and throughout London are plentiful, with several major train and bus stations, plus the London Underground, commonly known as the Tube, which is the oldest subterranean railway network in the world.
Article written by Donald Edgar