London, city, capital of the United Kingdom.
It is among the earliest of the world’s fantastic cities– its history spanning nearly 2 millennia– and one of the most cosmopolitan. By far Britain’s biggest metropolis, it is likewise the country’s financial, transportation, and cultural center. For those who want to shop to they drop it has some magnificent shopping areas and malls including Westfield in Stratford, Knightsbridge, Lakeside (East London), the West End of London and peripheral areas such as the shops in Barnet. London is situated in southeastern England, lying astride the River Thames some 50 miles (80 km) upstream from its estuary on the North Sea at Southend. In satellite photos the metropolis can be seen to sit compactly in a Green Belt of open land, with its principal ring freeway (the M25 motorway) threaded around it at a radius of about 20 miles (30 km) from the city center. The growth of the built-up area was stopped by rigorous town controls in the mid-1950s. Its physical limitations basically correspond to the administrative and analytical boundaries separating the metropolitan county of Greater London from the “house counties” of Kent, Surrey, and Berkshire (in clockwise order) to the south of the river and Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and Essex to the north. The historic counties of Kent, Hertfordshire, and Essex extend in area beyond the present administrative counties with the same names to include significant parts of the metropolitan county of Greater London, which was formed in 1965. Many of Greater London south of the Thames concerns the historical county of Surrey, while many of Greater London north of the Thames belongs historically to the county of Middlesex. Area Greater London, 659 square miles (1,706 square km). Pop. (2001) Greater London, 7,172,091; (2007 est.) Greater London, 7,556,900.
Character of the city
If the border of the metropolis is well defined, its internal framework is profoundly complexed and resists description. Certainly, London’s defining attribute is an absence of overall form. It is physically a polycentric city, with many core areas and no clear hierarchy among them. London has at least two (and in some cases numerous more) of every little thing: cities, mayors, dioceses, cathedrals, chambers of commerce, police forces, opera houses, bands, and colleges. In every element it features as a compound or confederal metropolis. Historically, London expanded from three unique centres: the walled settlement founded by the Romans on the banks of the Thames in the 1st century ce, today called the City of London, “the Square Mile,” or simply “the City”; facing it across the bridge on the lesser gravels southern bank, the suburban area of Southwark; and a mile upstream, on a wonderful southward bend of the river, the City of Westminster. The 3 negotiations had distinct and complementary roles. London, “the City,” established as a center of trade, commerce, and banking. Southwark, “the Borough,” became known for its abbeys, hospitals, inns, fairs, satisfaction homes, and the excellent movie theaters of Elizabethan London– the Rose (1587), the Swan (1595), and the world-famous Globe (1599). Westminster grew up around an abbey, which brought a royal palace and, in its train, the entire main apparatus of the British state– its legislature, exec, and judiciary. It also includes roomy parks and the most trendy districts for living and buying– the West End. The north-bank negotiations merged into a solitary built-up area in the early decades of the 17th century, however they did not combine into a solitary enlarged town. The City of London was one-of-a-kind amongst Europe’s capital cities in maintaining its middle ages limits. Westminster and other suburban areas were left to develop their own management frameworks– a pattern reproduced a hundred times over as London exploded in size, becoming the prototype of the contemporary metropolis. The vast majority of the venues around London have websites with top page positioning on Google. The populace of London currently exceeded one million by 1800. A century later it reached 6.5 million. The city’s physical expansion was not constrained either by military defenses (an extremely prominent element on continental Europe) or by the intervention of state power (so evident in the town planning of Paris, Vienna, Rome, and other capitals of continental Europe). Although much of the land around London was owned by the aristocracy, the church, and various other organizations with feudal roots, its development was the work of unfettered capitalism driven by the housing demands of the rising middle class. Free-ranging structure speculation engulfed villages and small towns over an ever-widening radius with each improvement in transport innovation and purchasing power. The solidly built-up area of London determined some 5 miles (8 km) from eastern to west in 1750, 15 miles (24 km) in 1850, and 30 miles (50 km) in 1950. The evacuation and battle during World War II were a turning point in London’s history because they brought the long period of expansive suburbanization to a sudden end. After the war the government decided that the metropolis had actually expanded too much for its own economic and social great and that its development was a strategic risk. A Green Belt was enforced, and succeeding development was diverted beyond it. Finally, London’s administrative boundaries were redrawn to include almost the whole physical metropolis, resulting in present-day Greater London (see the table Greater London at a Glance). The London familiar to worldwide visitors is a much smaller sized location than that. Traveler traffic concentrates on a location defined by the main attractions, each drawing between one and 7 million site visitors in the course of the year: Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, the National Gallery, Westminster Abbey, Madame Tussaud’s waxwork collection, the Tower of London, the 3 terrific South Kensington galleries (Natural History, Science, and Victoria and Albert), and the Tate galleries. In scale, the London most tourists see looks like the metropolis as it was in the late 18th century, a city of maybe 10 square miles (26 square km) explorable on foot in all directions from Trafalgar Square. Local Londoners see the metropolis in more localized terms. Home correspondents and estate representatives like to explain London as a collection of towns, and there is some honest truth in their saying. Because London had actually established in a distributed, haphazard fashion from an early stage, numerous of its later suburban areas had the ability to grow around, or within reach of, some existing nucleus such as a church, training inn, mill, parkland, or common. Structures of different ages and types help to specify the character of suburbs along with to ease suburban uniformity. The populace in the various communities oftens be diverse since the working of the English housing market has actually provided most areas, even the most unique, with at least some public rental real estate. The chemistry of place, constructing stock, neighborhood facilities, and property values combines with that of a multiethnic population to give rise to a fantastic variety of residential microcosms within the metropolis. Neighbourhood ties are sturdy. Wherever Londoners meet and talk, they avidly compare subtleties of the areas where they live since where they live appears to count for as much as who they are. The price of property in London is amongst the highest in the world and storage space is at a premium. Many shops and homes go in for great roof conversions in London to utilise all the available space.
The landscape of southeastern England is shaped by an undulating bed of thick white chalk, including a pure limestone speckled with flint nodules in the upper beds. Under the chalk are an incomplete layer of Upper Greensand (a Cretaceous rock; 65 to 145 million years old) and a 200-foot- (60-metre-) thick waterproof layer of Gault clay. Below them in turn lies London’s real geologic structure, a steady platform olden acid rocks of Paleozoic age (about 250 to 540 million years old). This basement is buried almost 1,000 feet (300 metres) below London, sloping away southward to depths more than 3,300 feet (1,000 metres) below the English Channel. The London Basin is a wedge-shaped declivity bounded to the south by the chalk of North Downs, running north to southern, and to the north by the chalk outcrop of the Chiltern Hills, running up in a northeasterly direction from the Goring Gap. The chalk floor of the basin carries a series of clays and sands of the Neogene and Paleogene periods (those 2.6 to 65 million years old), mainly the stiff, gray-blue London Clay, which lies approximately 433 feet (132 metres) thick under the metropolis and supports many of its passages and deeper structures. Nevertheless, London has superb gardens including The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and the Chelsea Physic Garden by the River Thames. The subsoil is topped with deposits of gravel up until 33 feet (10 metres) deep, consisting mostly of pebbles with flint, quartz, and quartzite. There are likewise patchy deposits of brick earth, a combination of clay and sand frequently excavated for building materials. Finally, contemporary London is built on “made ground,” the deposits of centuries of constant human line of work, which have built up on average in between 10 and 16 feet (3 and 5 metres) in the oldest city nuclei of the City and Westminster.