London. The city within a city within a country within a state.
The city of London lies within the city-region London, the capital of the country of England, which is in the sovereign state, the United Kingdom. From a minor trade centre filled with wooden houses, this city has withstood the tests of time to grow, in area and population, and prosper into one of the most important cities in the world.
1. History of London
The Romans invaded Britain in 43AD. As they built a bridge across the Thames, they concluded that it would be an excellent place to build a port. Some Roman merchants founded the city of Londinium on the bank of the river, thus laying foundation to the modern London.
The city has subsequently burnt, abandoned, looted, burnt (courtesy of the Danes), proclaimed the capital (in the 12th century) struck by the Black Death, witnessed a civil war, burnt once again (this time by the Great Fire of 1666), witnessed devastating aerial bombardment (courtesy the Nazis) and terrorist attacks. Simultaneously, the city grew, swallowing up neighbouring villages and becoming more important in trade circles.
After over 2,000 years of history, the city has now become one of the biggest financial and cultural capitals of the world.
Its nightlife is, in two words, pretty awesome. In a few more words, it is very diverse and extremely difficult to summarise. The city has the wildest of drinking dens and the most chilled-out spots.
Chinatown is great for dining. The theatre scene on Shaftesbury Avenue is strong. If you’re on a budget, steer clear from West End. The East End is a very happening place, with too many options to explore. Soho is the giant of London parties. Camden plays host to live gigs and from some ye-olde-pubs, head to West London.
3. Safety in London
This city is very safe for a city of its size. Violent crime is not prevalent in the city. The more likely types are pickpocketing and thievery. Basic precautions would be more than necessary to keep you safe. Be aware of your surroundings, do not flash money or any expensive electronic gadget. Be in control of your bags at all times. Do NOT get into any unlicensed cabs. Never accept a ride from a “minicab driver”, because minicab drivers must be pre-booked.
Roaming around alone at night can be safe, but be careful and do not pick fights.
4. Living Expenses in London
This city has been ranked the fifth most expensive city to live in. The wages, though, are higher in the capital than in any other city in Britain.
Renting a studio apartment in the City Centre can cost you as much as £5,000 (USD 7,250) per month. A similar apartment outside of City Centre costs as much as £1,500 (USD 2,180) per month. The costs average at around £1,700 (USD 2,470) and £1,200 (USD 1,740) respectively.
The cost of buying a square meter of apartment land in the City Centre goes as high as £25,000 (USD 3,630). Outside of the City Centre, a square meter of land can cost you as much as £12,000 (USD 17,403). The costs average at £20,000 (USD 29,000) and £8,000 (USD 11,600) respectively.
Budget hotels can go as low as £50 (USD 72) per night. Luxury hotels, like the Savoy, the Four Seasons and the Mandarin Oriental can go up to a whopping £500 (USD 725) per night.
5. Cuisines of London
This city’s food scene is bewildering. The number of distinct cuisines you can find in this city is pretty much unbelievable. It is one serious culinary hotspot. It is also home to the English Breakfast and the Afternoon Tea.
For delicious cheap eats (under £10 or USD 15), head down Brick Lane to arrive at Beigel Bake. Try out the infamous salt beef. It’s amazing. You would also find Rib Man on Brick Lane, home of the best pork ribs. Soho has to offer Tonkotsu. Have a bowl of ramen. Or two. You’ll want to have two. Herman Ze German’s famous hot dogs are also found in Soho.
HomeSlice on Covent Garden will serve you huge pizza slices. Fieldgate Street has Tayabbs (for the delicious curries and Punjabi cuisine).
It’s upscale restaurants (The Ledbury and the Chiltern Firehouse, to name two) will prove to be some of the best gastronomical experiences of your life. So, those are a no-brainer, if you are not on a budget.
6. Statistics of London
It is the capital and most populous city in the United Kingdom. London not just refers to the city, but also to the metropolitan area that has developed around the city. Greater London has an area of 1,752 sq. km. The metropolitan area surrounding London (also known as London Metropolitan Area) is spread over 8,300 sq. km.
Greater London had a population of over 8 million in 2014, with a density of 5,432 per sq. km. The Greater London Urban Area had a population of over 9 million and the Metropolitan Area had a population of around 14 million people. The total population of the city-region was an estimated 22.7 million.
According to the 2011 census, 36.7% of its population is foreign born. The immigrant population is from all over the globe (India, Poland, Ireland, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, France, Jamaica, United States) The city speaks over 300 languages.
7. Public Transport in London
It is easy to get around in London. You can take the Tube, one of the ubiquitous black cabs or a bus. Using an Oyster card is a very convenient and cheap way to move around. Tourists can order a Visitor Oyster Card before they leave for London. The card will be delivered at their doorstep. If you already are in London, you can get an Oyster card, or a 7 Day TravelCard. Oyster cards are capped at £6.50 per day as compared to a TravelCard’s £12.10 cap.
The Tube is the fastest way to get around the city. You can explore the city more intimately on foot, or hire a bike.
If you need maps or information about routes and timings, this city Transport site is the way to go.
Pollution in London – Due to diesel vehicles, the fine particle pollution (PM 2.5) in this city is not as severe as the nitrogen dioxide pollution. The PM10 concentrations in this city are around 23 ppm, as compared to Delhi’s (India) 180 ppm.
8. Weather of London
This city experiences a temperate oceanic climate. Even though it is infamous for its rain, it receives less rainfall in an entire year (601 mm) as compared to Sydney (1,212 mm), Tokyo (1,500 mm), Rome (804 mm) and Naples (1,000 mm).
It also experiences the urban island heat effect, making the city centre as much as 5 degrees warmer than the outskirts. Some summer days can be as hot as 40 degrees C. Winter temperatures seldom fall below freezing.
Summer: June to August. Average high: 22 degrees C. Average low: 13 degrees C.
Autumn: September to November. Average high: 15 degrees C. Average low: 8 degrees C.
Winter: December to February. Average high: 8 degrees C. Average low: 2 degrees C.
Spring: March to May. Average high: 14 degrees C. Average low: 5 degrees C.
9. Culture of London
It has an incredibly rich culture. The constantly evolving culture of the city is shaped by the diversity that it houses. It leads the race for the title of the cultural capital of the world.
It has an exceptional classical and popular music scene with live performances happening everyday. The Royal Albert Hall, Barbican Hall and the Royal Festival Hall are some of the biggest platforms in the world. The city is also home to the best artists that have ever been.
It hosts over 40 free festivals every year. The most famous of all is the Notting Hill Carnival.
There are over three dozen major theaters, mostly in the West End and over 200 museums in the city. The National Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum are famous all over the world.
10. Places to Visit in London
Things to do in London: Have the typical English breakfast; Visit the London Eye, the Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s cathedral, Trafalgar Square, the Globe Theater, Royal Albert Hall, the Shard and the Tower of London; Check out the Borough Market; Take a walk through Hyde Park; Step over two different hemispheres at the Royal Observatory Greenwich; Stop, relax and enjoy the traditional Afternoon Tea; Try to reach platform 934(you’re never too old for Harry Potter); Stop by the Piccadilly Circus; Shop at Oxford Street, enjoy Camden Town. Catch the Wimbledon, if you get the chance.
Things to do for Kids in London: Check out platform 934at King’s Cross, the Sherlock Holmes museum at 221B Baker Street; Kids would love the London Eye or the Lion King musical. There is a wonderful playground in St. James’s Park. Battersea Park has a zoo. The London Zoo will also be a good choice. These are the major beautiful attraction for kids in London.
Museums and Galleries: It has over 240 museums and galleries. A visit to London is incomplete without a dive into the history of the city. The British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, National Gallery, National Maritime Museum, Tate Gallery and the Museum of London are some of the innumerable names this city has to offer.
Places Nearby: Oxford, Brighton, Cambridge, Canterbury, Gloucester, Winchester, Leeds and Cardiff are all wonderful places to see, within 2 hours from London. Buses (coaches in English) and trains to all the places are easily available.
Offbeat places: The Cotswolds are straight out of a storybook. Quiet and serene, they have the typical ye-olde-English villages. New Forest is also a wonderful getaway from the busy city life into mother nature’s peaceful, leafy lap. Stonehenge (to and back) also makes a day trip from London.
Author’s Conclusion: Samuel Jackson, the English poet, essayist and literary critic summed up London in 1777. His words are as valid today, as they were in the 1770s.
“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.”
|Area||Greater London – 1752 sq. km
Urban London – 1,737 sq. km
Metropolitan London – 8,832 sq. km
|Population||22.7 Million (of the entire city-region) as of 2015|
|Currency||Pound Sterling (GBP) (1£ = 1.45 USD as of 5th February, 2016)|
|Time Zone||Greenwich Mean Time (UTC)
British Summer Time (UTC +1)
|Driving||Right-Hand Drive, Left-Hand Traffic|
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