London is the capital of the United Kingdom, its economic, political and cultural centre. It is one of the world's most important ports and one of the largest cities in the world. London with its suburbs has a population of about 11 million people.
London has been a capital for nearly a thousand years. Many of its ancient buildings still stand. The most famous of them are the Tower of London, where the crown jewels are kept, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral. Most visitors also want to see the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace (the Queen's home with its Changing of the Guards) and the many magnificent museums.
Once London was a small Roman town on the north bank of the Thames. Slowly it grew into one of the world's major cities.
Different areas of London seem like different cities. The West End is a rich man's world of shops, offices, and theatres. The City of London is the district where most offices and banks are concentrated; the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England are here, too. The East End is the district where mostly working people live. The old port area is now called "Docklands". There are now new office buildings in Docklands, and thousands of new flats and houses.
By the day the whole of London is busy. At night, offices are quiet and empty, but the West End stays alive, because this is where Londoners come to enjoy themselves. There are two opera houses here, several concert halls and many theatres, as well as cinemas. In nearby Soho the pubs, restaurants and night clubs are busy half the night.
Like all big cities, London has streets and concrete buildings, but It also has many big parks, full of trees, flowers and grass. In the middle of Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens you will think that you are in the country, miles away.
Many people live outside the centre of London in the suburbs, and they travel to work in shops and offices by train, bus or underground ("The Tube").