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About London

Endlessly eclectic, dynamic and effervescent, London is truly one of the world‘s great cities. This sprawling metropolis is a far cry from the scrabble of dwellings that first sprouted up along the banks of the River Thames to house river traders during their voyages towards the sea. It was the Romans who really kick-started the city, by establishing “Londinium” as an important fortress town in the southeast of this then untamed island, guarding over the Thames and protecting against any incursions by fierce Celtic tribes. The Romans brought with them forts, roads and the rule of law prompting Roman historian Tacitus to boast of an AD60 city “filled with travellers and a celebrated centre of commerce”. Over the ages, London has grown against all odds as its resilient citizens faced up to a myriad of dangers that would undoubtedly have sunk a lesser place. The Great Plague, the Great Fire, the bitter English Civil War and a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament to name but a few. Even as London was taking its place on the 20th-century‘s world stage, the German Luftwaffe attempted to bomb it off the face of the Earth during the World War II “Blitz”.

These days, London is a truly multicultural city, with 37 distinct immigrant groups, each consisting of more than 10,000 people, as part of a population that is pushing inexorably towards the ten million mark. This multiculturalism perhaps best manifests itself on the plate. While Indian food is as much of a British institution as fish and chips, London residents and visitors could actually choose what type of restaurant to dine in by putting a pin in a globe.

The sheer scale of Greater London can be daunting at first, sprawling 1500 sq kilometres (580 sq miles) across a voluminous plain, swallowing all in its path as it goes, but it is a city that is surprisingly easy to get around, as the “Tube” is an easily understandable and comprehensive underground system. The old cliché of London being a collection of villages still rings true with each cog of the organically developed wheel boasting its own attractions, from leafy Richmond in the southwest or Hampstead in the north, trendy Hoxton in the east or Notting Hill in the west, right through to bustling Soho in the centre and the high-tech landscape of the Docklands to the east. The twin axis on which London rests is the Houses of Parliament to the west and “The City” to the east. The seat of government (not far from the home of the royal family) is connected to The City (the financial engine room of London and the whole of the UK) by the River Thames and in between lie most of the tourist attractions and the busiest, liveliest nightlife areas. Overseeing the whole lot is Ken Livingstone and his mayoral government, who started their jobs in 2000, and are keen to make an impact on the city, probably most visible in the changing skyline. The City and the Docklands are both already shooting upwards.

In summer, London‘s bountiful green spaces fill up with office workers and tourists enjoying the surprisingly balmy days as café tables sprout across a multitude of pavements. In the depths of winter, when the grey skies and rain clouds descend, there are always the numerous cosy pubs to hide away in.


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