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London - Europe
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London is the largest urban area in, and the capital of, England and the United Kingdom. An important settlement for two millennia, London's history goes back to its founding by the Romans. Since its settlement, London has been part of many important movements and phenomena throughout history, such as the English Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, and the Gothic Revival. The city's core, the ancient City of London, still retains its limited medieval boundaries; but since at least the 19th century the name "London" has also referred to the whole metropolis which has developed around it. Today the bulk of this conurbation forms the London region of England and the Greater London administrative area, with its own elected mayor and assembly. London is the world's leading business, financial, and one of the worlds leading cultural centres,] and its influence in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion and the arts all contribute to its status as a major global city. London boasts four World Heritage Sites: The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret's Church; the Tower of London; the historic settlement of Greenwich; and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The city is a major tourist destination. London's diverse population draws from a wide range of peoples, cultures, and religions, and over 300 languages are spoken within the city. As of 2006, it has an official population of 7,512,400 within the boundaries of Greater London[2] and is the most populous municipality in the European Union. As of 2001, the Greater London Urban Area has a population of 8,278,251 and the metropolitan area is estimated to have a total population of between 12 and 14 million. London is the current Olympic City and will be hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics. The etymology of London remains a mystery. The earliest etymological explanation can be attributed to Geoffrey of Monmouth in Historia Regum Britanniae. The name is described as originating from King Lud, who had allegedly taken over the city and named it Kaerlud. This was slurred into Kaerludein and finally London. Few modern sources support this theory. Many other theories have been advanced over the centuries, mostly deriving it from Welsh or British, but occasionally from Anglo-Saxon or even Hebrew. In 1998, Richard Coates, a linguistics professor, criticised these suggestions, and proposed that the name derives from the pre-Celtic *plowonida, which roughly means "a river too wide to ford". He suggested that the Thames running through London was given this name, and the inhabitants added the suffix -on or -onjon to their settlement. Proto-Indo-European *p was regularly lost in proto-Celtic, and through linguistic change, the name developed from Plowonidonjon to Lundonjon, then contracted to Lundein or Lundyn, Latinised to Londinium, and finally borrowed by the Anglo-Saxons as Lundene.

London is a major centre for international business and commerce and is one of three "command centres" for the world economy (along with New York City and Tokyo). According to 2005 estimates by the PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm, London has the 6th largest city economy in the world after Tokyo, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Paris . As the world's largest international banking centre with a 50% share of all European activity and Europe's second largest city economy after Paris, year-by-year London generates approximately 20% of the UK's GDP (or $446 billion in 2005); while the economy of the London metropolitan area (the second largest in Europe) generates approximately 30% of UK's GDP (or an estimated $669 billion in 2005.) London shifted to a mostly service-based economy earlier than other European cities, particularly following World War II. London's success is as a service industry and business centre can be attributed to factors such as English being the native and dominant language of business, its former position as the capital of the British Empire, close relationship with the U.S. and various countries in Asia. Other factors include English law being the most important and most used contract law in international business and the multi-cultural infrastructure. Government policies such as low taxes, particularly for foreigners (non-UK domiciled residents do not get taxed on their foreign earnings), a business friendly environment, good transport infrastructure, particularly its aviation industry; and a deregulated economy with little intervention by the government have all contributed to London's economy becoming more service based. Over 85% (3.2 million) of the employed population of greater London works in service industries. Another half a million employees resident in Greater London work in manufacturing and construction, almost equally divided between both. There has been a significant fall in the number of people working in manufacturing industries in London over the last three decades, largely as a result of competition from lower cost regions but also as a consequence of technology and process improvements. Even so, there are still more than 15,000 manufacturing businesses in London such as clothing, printing, fabricated metal, furniture and wood/products and food and drink. There is also strong growth in the recycling/environmental sector. A strong manufacturing base still thrives in London because of its geographic location and access to huge markets, its large science and knowledge base, its physical assets, its diversity and its role as a centre of design and creative industries. The largest parks in the central area of London are the Royal Parks of Hyde Park and its neighbour Kensington Gardens at the western edge of central London and Regent's Park on the northern edge. This park contains London Zoo, the world's oldest scientific zoo, and is located near the tourist attraction of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Closer to central London are the smaller Royal Parks of Green Park and St. James's Park. Hyde Park in particular is popular for sports and sometimes hosts open-air concerts. A number of large parks lie outside the city centre, including the remaining Royal Parks of Greenwich Park to the south-east and Bushy Park and Richmond Park to the south-west, as well as Victoria Park, East London to the east. Primrose Hill to the north of Regent's Park is a popular spot to view the city skyline. Some more informal, semi-natural open spaces also exist, including the 791-acre (3.2 km2) Hampstead Heath of North London. This incorporates Kenwood House, the former stately home and a popular location in the summer months where classical musical concerts are held by the lake, attracting thousands of people every weekend to enjoy the music, scenery and fireworks.

The centrepiece of the public transport network is the London Underground—commonly referred to as The Tube—which has eleven interconnecting lines. It is the oldest, longest, and most expansive metro system in the world, dating from 1863. The system was home to the world's first underground electric line, the City & South London Railway, which began service in 1890. Over three million journeys a day are made on the Underground network, nearly 1 billion journeys each year. The Underground serves the central area and most suburbs to the north of the Thames, while those to the south are served by an extensive suburban rail surface network. The Docklands Light Railway is a second metro system using smaller and lighter trains, which opened in 1987, serving East London and Greenwich on both sides of the Thames. Commuter and intercity railways generally do not cross the city, instead running into fourteen terminal stations scattered around its historic centre; the exception is the Thameslink route operated by First Capital Connect, with terminus stations at Bedford, Brighton and Moorgate. Since the early 1990s, increasing pressures on the commuter rail and Underground networks have led to increasing demands—particularly from businesses and the City of London Corporation—for Crossrail: a £10 billion east–west heavy rail connection under central London, which was given the green light in early October 2007.

High-speed Eurostar trains link St Pancras International with Lille and Paris in France, and Brussels in Belgium. Journey times to Paris and Brussels of 2h 15 and 1h 51 respectively make London closer to continental Europe than the rest of Britain by virtue of the newly completed High Speed 1 rail link to the Channel Tunnel. From 2009 this line will also allow for high speed domestic travel from Kent into London. The redevelopment of St. Pancras was key to London's Olympic bid, as the station also serves two international airports through Thameslink, and will also provide direct rail links to the Olympic site at Stratford using British Rail Class 395 trains running under the Olympic Javelin name; these will be based on Japanese Shinkansen high-speed trains. London's bus network is one of the biggest in the world, running 24 hours, with 8,000 buses, 700 bus routes, and over 6 million passenger journeys made every weekday. In 2003, the network's ridership was estimated at over 1.5 billion passenger trips per annum which is more than the Underground. Around £850 m is taken in revenue each year and London has the largest wheelchair accessible network in the world and, from the 3rd quarter of 2007, became more accessible to hearing and visually impaired passengers as audio-visual announcements were introduced. The buses are internationally recognised, and are a trademark of London transport along with black cabs and the Tube. London is a major international air transport hub. No fewer than eight airports use the words London Airport in their name, but most traffic passes through one of five major airports. London Heathrow Airport is the busiest airport in the world for international traffic, and is the major hub of the nation's flag carrier, British Airways. In March 2008 its fifth terminal was opened,and plans are already being considered for a sixth terminal. Similar traffic, with the addition of some low-cost short-haul flights, is also handled at London Gatwick Airport. London Stansted Airport and London Luton Airport cater mostly for low-cost short-haul flights.London City Airport, the smallest and most central airport, is focused on business travellers, with a mixture of full service short-haul scheduled flights and considerable business jet traffic.

Although the majority of journeys involving central London are made by public transport, travel in outer London is car-dominated. The inner ring road (around the city centre), the North and South Circular roads (in the suburbs), and the outer orbital motorway (the M25, outside the built-up area) encircle the city and are intersected by a number of busy radial routes—but very few motorways penetrate into inner London. A plan for a comprehensive network of motorways throughout the city (the Ringways Plan) was prepared in the 1960s but was mostly cancelled in the early 1970s. In 2003, a congestion charge was introduced to reduce traffic volumes in the city centre. With a few exceptions, motorists are required to pay £8 per day to drive within a defined zone encompassing much of congested central London. Motorists who are residents of the defined zone can buy a vastly reduced season pass which is renewed monthly and is cheaper than a corresponding bus fare. London also has two central Park & Ride sites for the convenience of shoppers on Oxford Street and Bond Street, Westminster City Council car parks run a courtesy bus service from its Park Lane and Marble Arch car parks.
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