London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of around 8.8 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a 50-mile (80 km) estuary down to the North Sea and has been a major settlement for two millennia. The City of London, its ancient core and financial centre, was founded by the Romans as Londinium and retains its medieval boundaries. The City of Westminster, to the west of the City of London, has for centuries hosted the national government and parliament. Since the 19th century, the name "London" also refers to the metropolis around this core, historically split among the counties of Middlesex, Essex, Surrey, Kent, and Hertfordshire, which since 1965 has largely comprised Greater London, which is governed by 33 local authorities and the Greater London Authority.
The London metropolitan area is the third-most populous in Europe, with about 14 million inhabitants in 2016, granting London the status of a megacity.
London has four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London; Kew Gardens; the combined Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret's Church; and also the historic settlement in Greenwich, where the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, defines the prime meridian (0° longitude) and Greenwich Mean Time. Other landmarks include Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, and Trafalgar Square. London has many museums, galleries, libraries, and cultural venues, including the British Museum, National Gallery, Natural History Museum, Tate Modern, British Library, and numerous West End theatres. Important sporting events held in London include the FA Cup Final, the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, and the London Marathon. In 2012, London became the first city to host three Summer Olympic Games.
Places within London's vast urban area are identified using area names, such as Mayfair, Southwark, Wembley, and Whitechapel. These are either informal designations, reflect the names of villages that have been absorbed by sprawl, or are superseded administrative units such as parishes or former boroughs.
Such names have remained in use through tradition, each referring to a local area with its own distinctive character, but without official boundaries. Since 1965, Greater London has been divided into 32 London boroughs in addition to the ancient City of London. The City of London is the main financial district, and Canary Wharf has recently developed into a new financial and commercial hub in the Docklands to the east.
The West End is London's main entertainment and shopping district, attracting tourists. West London includes expensive residential areas where properties can sell for tens of millions of pounds. The average price for properties in Kensington and Chelsea is over £2 million with a similarly high outlay in most of central London.
The East End is the area closest to the original Port of London, known for its high immigrant population, as well as for being one of the poorest areas in London. The surrounding East London area saw much of London's early industrial development; now, brownfield sites throughout the area are being redeveloped as part of the Thames Gateway including the London Riverside and Lower Lea Valley, which was developed into the Olympic Park for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
London, also known as Greater London, is one of nine regions of England and the top subdivision covering most of the city's metropolis. The City of London at its core once comprised the whole settlement, but as its urban area grew, the Corporation of London resisted attempts to amalgamate the city with its suburbs, causing "London" to be defined several ways.
Forty per cent of Greater London is covered by the London post town, in which 'LONDON' forms part of postal addresses. London postcodes comprise of: E, EC, N, NW, SE, SW, W, WC, BR, CM, CR, DA, EN, HA, IG, KT, RM, SM,UB, WD, TN, TW. The London telephone area code (020) covers a larger area, similar in size to Greater London, although some outer districts are excluded and some just outside included. The Greater London boundary has been aligned to the M25 motorway in places.
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