Humanities › Geography Geographic and Historical Facts About London Share Flipboard Email Print xavierarnau / Getty Images Geography Urban Geography Basics Physical Geography Political Geography Population Country Information Key Figures & Milestones Maps By Amanda Briney Geography Expert M.A., Geography, California State University - East Bay B.A., English and Geography, California State University - Sacramento Amanda Briney, M.A., is a professional geographer. She holds a Certificate of Advanced Study in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from California State University. our editorial process Amanda Briney Updated November 05, 2019 The City of London, the capital of the United Kingdom as well as England, is the country's most populous. It is also one of the largest urban areas in Western Europe. The city's history goes back to Roman times when it was called Londinium. Remnants of London's ancient history are still visible today, as the city's historic core is still surrounded by its medieval boundaries. Today London is one of the world's largest financial centers and is home to 100 of Europe's top 250 largest companies. It also has a strong governmental function as it is the home of the United Kingdom's Parliament. Education, media, fashion, arts, and other cultural activities are also prevalent in the city. It is a major world tourist destination, features four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and was host to 1908, 1948, and 2012 Summer Olympics. 10 Important Things About London It is believed that the first permanent settlement in present-day London was a Roman one in around 43 BCE. It lasted for only 17 years, however, as it was eventually raided and destroyed. The city was rebuilt, and by the second century, Roman London or Londinium had a population of more than 60,000 people.Starting in the second century, London passed through the control of various groups, but by 1300 the city had a highly organized governmental structure and a population of more than 100,000. In the centuries following, London continued to grow and became a European cultural center because of writers such as William Shakespeare. The city became a large seaport.In the 17th century, London lost one-fifth of its population in the Great Plague. Around the same time, much of the city was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666. Rebuilding took more than 10 years and since then, the city has grown.Like many European cities, London was highly affected by World War II, especially after the Blitz and other German bombings killed more than 30,000 London residents and destroyed a large part of the city. The 1948 Summer Olympics were then held at Wembley Stadium as the rest of the city rebuilt.As of 2016, London had a population of 8.8 million, or 13 percent of the UK population, and a crowded average population density of more than 14,000 people per square mile (5,405/sq km). This population is a diverse mix of various cultures and religions, and more than 300 languages are spoken in the city.The Greater London region covers a total area of 607 square miles (1,572 sq km). The London Metropolitan Region, however, contains 3,236 square miles (8,382 sq km).The main topographical feature of London is the Thames River, which crosses the city from the east to the southwest. The Thames has many tributaries, most of which are now underground as they flow through London. The Thames is also a tidal river, and London is thus vulnerable to flooding. Because of this, a barrier called the Thames River Barrier has been built across the river.London's climate is considered temperate maritime, and the city generally has moderate temperatures. The average summer high temperature is around 70 F to 75 F (21 C to 24 C). Winters can be cold, but because of the urban heat island, London itself does not regularly receive significant snowfall. The average winter high temperature in London is 41 F to 46 F (5 C to 8 C).Along with New York City and Tokyo, London is one of the three command centers for the world's economy. The largest industry in London is finance, but professional services, media such as the BBC, and tourism are also large industries in the city. After Paris, London is the world's second most visited city by tourists, and it attracted more than 30 million international visitors in 2017.London is home to various universities and colleges and has a student population of around 372,000. London is a world research center, and the University of London is the largest teaching university in Europe.