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The British capital is also called ‘Europe's most swinging city’. London is (together with New York, Paris and Tokyo) one of the four main capitals of the world. The city is full of history, has several major museums (the majority with free entrance), accommodates one of the best club scenes on earth and comprises an incredible offer of restaurants. Moreover, the city is a shopping paradise with large department stores, designer shops and small boutiques.
London city has 7.5 million inhabitants, however the entire London Metropolitan Area has more than 12 million inhabitants, which makes it the largest metropolis of the European Union.
London was founded by the Romans in 43 BC. The city is situated in the southeast of England on the River Thames, which flows through London from west to east. It is a very large city, Greater London comprises more than 1,500 square kilometers.
London is one of the most important trade centers on earth and the most important financial center of Europe. Many large banks and corporations have their (European) head office in the British capital. The city is also an important media center, the BBC is the most important employer, but also other radio stations and television channels are based in London, together with large newspapers and publishers.
Furthermore, tourism is important for London's economy with 16 million annual visitors.
For a long time now, the Port of London is not the largest port of the United Kingdom anymore, nevertheless the trans-shipment volume is still considerable, a yearly amount of 50 million (metric) tons.
The city has as many as five airports. Heathrow Airport (24 kilometers to the west of the city center) is the largest airport, thereafter comes London Gatwick, 45 kilometers to the south of the city, along the M23 highway, and Stansted Airport, about 50 kilometers to the northeast of London. Luton Airport is located 51 kilometers to the north of the city and is mainly used by budget airlines. The smallest City Airport is the most centrally located of all (in the east part of town, near the Docklands) and is mainly used by business travelers.
Public transport in the British capital is excellent. First of all there is the subway (‘The Tube’), the fastest and most convenient way to reach your destination in London. Even though the subway system is already very extensive, in the next few years a further extension is being worked on for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
It is impossible to imagine London without its red double decker buses, it is certainly not the fastest means of transport, but great fun and nice for sightseeing at the same time.
At night almost all buses leave from Trafalgar Square, be aware that these buses only stop on request.
Although you can perfectly use the car outside the center of London, it is definitely not recommendable to go downtown by car. The city also seeks to discourage this by charging a toll (‘Congestion Charge’) for entering the downtown area, additionally, it is hard to find parking spaces and the parking rates are high.
London does not have any lack of hotels, which ranges from friendly bed & breakfasts to classic and elegant hotels and hypermodern and luxurious accommodation. You need to take into account that London is not only a major tourist attraction, but also an important business center, therefore it is recommendable to book your room well in advance if you wish to have an accommodation close to the city center.