LONDON is one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan cities in the world – and is known for it's red buses and fast-moving tubes.
But where is it actually located and what county is London in? Here's everything you need to know.
What county is London in?
London is in the ceremonial county of Greater London – which is an administrative region made up of the City of London and the 32 London boroughs.
14 of which constitute Inner London and the others Outer London.
It is governed by the Greater London Assembly, and the Mayor.
Somewhat confusingly, although the City of London – which covers just one square mile – falls within the boundaries of Greater London, it has its own Mayor, police and governance.
But people generally say "London" to refer to the whole area of Greater London.
The City of London is the smallest city in England, with about 10,000 residents, and another half a million people who work there.
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City of London Police cars are red and blue, distinguishing them from the silver ones of the rest of London, and the white police cars of the rest of England.
Transport for London (TfL) is part of the Greater London Authority, although the transport system extends beyond those boundaries.
What counties does London cover?
Greater London was created in 1965 out of the former County of London, which existed from 1889 – and still continue to this day.
From 1965, Greater London incorporated parts of historic counties Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey and most of Middlesex, which was once a county itself.
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There are many areas in Greater London where people still identify with, the county they were once in, such as "Hampton, Middlesex", "Hayes, Kent" or "Barking, Essex".
Some still have postcodes that have not been updated – like Bromley, which is now in south-east London but has retained a Kent postcode.
These homes around the borders will pay London taxes and be under the governance of the Greater London Borough Councils.
The old County of London area is often called Inner London, but this is not consistent, with Haringey and Newham included, and Greenwich excluded, for many statistics.
How many boroughs does London have?
London has 32 boroughs. These are all governed by local councils, apart from the City of London which has its own governance.
The twelve inner boroughs are:
- Hammersmith and Fulham
- Kensington and Chelsea
- Tower Hamlets
The outer London boroughs are:
- Barking and Dagenham
- Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
- Richmond upon Thames
- Waltham Forest
Up until the early 19th century, London was mostly confined to the boundaries of the original Roman city.
Increasing city sprawl led to the creation of the original County of London in 1889, governed by the London County Council, followed by the current set up in 1965.
Twelve of the London boroughs are designated as Inner London, and the other twenty are classed as Outer London.
They are each governed by a council, who decide policies on services like libraries, waste collection, adult and social services.
Together they spend more than £15 billion a year, which includes around £7 billion on education and £8 billion on core local government services.
However, the Greater London Authority has jurisdiction over other elements of daily life, such as transport, police services and fire services.
Has London always been the capital of England?
You might be surprised to find out the answer is no – the first capital city of England was Colchester, now in Essex, as chosen by the Romans around 50BC.
The Romans made a strategic switch to London as their capital in the middle of the first century, after Queen Boadicea's revolt, and it remained until the fifth century.
They built a huge fort near what we now call Mincing Lane, in the City of London.
They also built the first London Bridge, just a few metres east of the current one: this city was called Londinium.
London became capital of the Kingdom of Essex in the eighth century.
Before the Romans, and in fact after too, England was a collection of tribal kingdoms, with no unifying city or governance.
When the Romans left, the capital city of England changed multiple times according to which kingdom was most powerful.
Tamworth, then capital city of Mercia, was declared capital city of England under King Offa in the 600s.
This was followed by Winchester, capital of then Wessex, which became capital of England in the late 800s under Alfred the Great.
And in the year 913, when Northampton was reclaimed from the Danes, that became the next capital of England.
London was the capital for the Normans after their invasion in 1066, and the city’s existing rights and privileges were established by William Duke of Normandy (The Conquerer) in 1067.
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William commissioned the building of the Tower of London.
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