Welcome to London

London is a sprawling modern Babylon. Traces of every century, every movement, every nationality, religion and race, every trend and tradition can be found within its great expanse. The ancient gothic churches and cobbled winding streets are set against the modernity of architectural skyscrapers and bright rushing lights. The grandeur of palaces and wide green spaces are far removed from the gritty graffitied back streets overrun with drinkers and the cacophony of city sounds.

Its sheer size can be daunting. The best way to think of it is as a collection of self-contained villages, each with their own character and community. London began as a Roman settlement in 40AD roughly around London Bridge. As it expanded it enveloped everything in its wake. Most boroughs were once towns on its outskirts, which partly explains its multiple personalities. Add to that a melting pot of the world’s nations - there are more than 300 languages spoken - and you’re coming close to understanding the city.

Thanks to this diversity there isn’t a food you want to try, a trend you want to follow or music you want to hear that isn’t available somewhere. Writer Samuel Johnson once wrote, ‘By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show’. That was as true in the 18th century as it is today.

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Quick facts

  • Inhabitants in United Kingdom:
    ca 60 million
  • Inhabitants in London:
    7.4 million (12.6 million including the metropolis)
  • Official language
  • Currency
    British pound sterling (GBP)
  • Time zone
  • Emergency number
  • Constitution
    Constitutional monarchy
  • Country phone code
  • Country code
  • Local transportation
    Tube, Bus, DLR, Bicycle, Boat, Train, Tram