New Delhi

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Lotus Temple, New Delhi

Tentang Ibukota India, New Delhi

  • Luas wilayah / area : 42,7 km².
  • Didirikan : Tahun 1911, ibukota negara india sebelumnya adalah Delhi, sedangkan New Delhi adalah salah satu distrik di kota Delhi.
  • Diresmikan : Tahun 1931.
  • Jumlah penduduk di Metropolitan 2016 : 26,5 juta jiwa.
  • Ketinggian rata-rata : 216 m dpl.
  • Bahasa resmi : Hindi.
  • Bahasa kedua : Urdu dan Punjabi.
  • Bandar Udara: Bandara Internasional Indira Gandhi (IATA: DEL, ICAO: VIDP) berfungsi sebagai pusat penerbangan sipil utama untuk Wilayah Ibu Kota Nasional Delhi, India. 

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Bandara, yang tersebar di area seluas 5.106 hektar (2.066 ha), terletak di Palam, 15 km (9,3 mi) barat daya dari stasiun kereta api New Delhi dan 16 km (9,9 mi) dari pusat kota New Delhi.

Dinamai setelah Indira Gandhi, mantan Perdana Menteri India, ini adalah bandara tersibuk di India dalam hal lalu lintas penumpang sejak 2009. Merupakan bandara tersibuk di negara ini dalam hal lalu lintas kargo yang menyalip Mumbai pada akhir 2015.

Pada tahun kalender 2016, bandara ini merupakan bandara tersibuk ke-21 di dunia dan bandara tersibuk ke-10 di Asia dengan lalu lintas penumpang yang menangani lebih dari 55 juta penumpang. Bandara tersebut menangani lebih dari 57,7 juta penumpang pada tahun fiskal 2016-17.

  • Zona Waktu : IST = India Standard Time ( UTC +5.30 ).
  • Ketinggian: 216 m (709 ft).
  • Kode Telepon: +91-11
  • Agama : 
    • Hindu 90 %,
    • Islam 4 %,
    • Kristen 3%, Sikhs 2 % 
    • Sisanya : Jains, Buddha dll.
  • Temperatur udara: 7 s/d 39 ºC, rekor terendah/tertinggi: -0.6/47 ºC.
  • Curah Hujan: 760 mm/tahun.
  • Koordinat: 28°36′50″LU 77°12′32″BT

Kantor Organisasi Internasional di Kota New Delhi, India

Kota ini merupakan rumah bagi berbagai organisasi internasional. Pusat Transfer Teknologi PBB dan Asia Pasifik untuk UNESCAP yang melayani kawasan Asia Pasifik berkantor pusat di New Delhi. New Delhi adalah rumah bagi sebagian besar kantor regional PBB di India yaitu UNDP, UNODC, UNESCO, UNICEF, WFP, UNV, UNCTAD, FAO, UNFPA, WHO, Bank Dunia, ILO, IMF, UNIFEM, IFC dan UNAIDS. Perwakilan UNHCR di India juga berada di kota.

Kondisi Ekonomi di Ibukota India, New Delhi

New Delhi adalah kota komersial terbesar di India utara. Ini memiliki perkiraan Produk Domestik Bruto (FY 2010) sebesar ₹ 1.595 miliar (US $ 25 miliar) secara nominal dan ~ ₹ 6,800 miliar (US $ 110 miliar) dalam persyaratan PPP.

Pada 2013, pendapatan per kapita Delhi adalah Rs. 230000, tertinggi kedua di India setelah Goa. GSDP di Delhi dengan harga berlaku untuk 2012-13 diperkirakan mencapai Rs 3,88 triliun terhadap Rs 3,11 triliun pada 2011-12.

Connaught Place, salah satu pusat komersial dan keuangan terbesar di India Utara, terletak di bagian utara New Delhi. Daerah yang berdekatan seperti Barakhamba Road, ITO juga merupakan pusat komersial utama. Pemerintah dan sektor pemerintah kuasi merupakan perusahaan induk di New Delhi. Sektor jasa kota telah berkembang karena sebagian besar tenaga kerja terampil berbahasa Inggris yang telah menarik banyak perusahaan multinasional. Industri jasa utama meliputi teknologi informasi, telekomunikasi, hotel, perbankan, media dan pariwisata.

Laporan Kekayaan Dunia 2011 mengurutkan aktivitas ekonomi di New Delhi pada usia 39, namun secara keseluruhan ibukota tersebut berada di peringkat 37, di atas kota-kota seperti Jakarta dan Johannesburg. New Delhi dengan posisi saham Beijing sebagai posisi pasar ritel paling potensial di antara pasar Asia Pasifik.

Menurut Survei Ekonomi Delhi, kota metropolitan tersebut memiliki Produk Domestik Luar Negeri (SDP) Rs. 830,85 miliar (untuk tahun 2004-05) dan pendapatan per kapita Rs. 53.976 ($ 1.200). Pada tahun 2008-09 New Delhi memiliki Penghasilan Per Kapita Rs. 116.886 ($ 2.595). Tumbuh sebesar 16,2% untuk mencapai Rs. 135.814 ($ 3.018) pada tahun 2009-10 fiskal. PDB Perkapita New Delhi (di PPP) berada di $ 6.860 selama 2009-10 fiskal, menjadikannya salah satu kota terkaya di India. Sektor tersier menyumbang 78,4% SDP kotor Delhi diikuti oleh sektor sekunder dan primer masing-masing dengan kontribusi masing-masing sebesar 20,2% dan 1,4%.

Produk domestik bruto negara (GSDP) Delhi dengan harga berlaku untuk tahun 2011-12 diperkirakan mencapai Rs 3,13 triliun (skala pendek), yang meningkat 18,7 persen dari fiskal sebelumnya.

Gallery


Akshardham Temple and Spiritual Sites of South Delhi Including ISKCON Temple

Akshardham Temple and Spiritual Sites of South Delhi Including ISKCON Temple

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The Bahá’í Lotus Temple in New Delhi

Red Fort in Delhi

Red Fort in Delhi

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Taj Mahal

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India Gate in New Delhi

Mahatma Gandhi Statue

Mahatma Gandhi Statue

Singapore

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Singapore

Singapore (/ˈsɪŋəpɔːr/ (About this sound listen), /ˈsɪŋɡə-/), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign city-state in Southeast Asia. It is sometimes referred to as the “Lion City”, “Garden City” or the “Little Red Dot”. It lies one degree (137 km) north of the equator, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia’s Riau Islands to the south. Singapore’s territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets. It shares maritime borders with Indonesia at the south while at the north Malaysia. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23% (130 km2) and its greening policy has covered the densely populated island with tropical flora, parks and gardens.

Singapore Data

Stamford Raffles founded colonial Singapore in 1819 as a trading post of the East India Company, but after its collapse and the eventual establishment of the British Raj, the islands were ceded to Britain and became part of its Straits Settlements in 1826. During the Second World War, Singapore was occupied by Japan. It gained independence from the UK in 1963 by federating with other former British territories to form Malaysia, but separated two years later over ideological differences, becoming a sovereign nation in 1965. After early years of turbulence and despite lacking natural resources and a hinterland, the nation developed rapidly as an Asian Tiger economy, based on external trade and its workforce.

Singapore is a global commerce, finance and transport hub. Its standings include: the most “technology-ready” nation (WEF), top International-meetings city (UIA), city with “best investment potential” (BERI), second-most competitive country, third-largest foreign exchange market, third-largest financial centre, third-largest oil refining and trading centre and the second-busiest container port. The country has also been identified as a tax haven.

Singapore ranks 5th on the UN Human Development Index and the 3rd highest GDP per capita. It is ranked highly in education, healthcare, life expectancy, quality of life, personal safety and housing. Although income inequality is high, 90% of homes are owner-occupied. 38% of Singapore’s 5.6 million residents are permanent residents and other foreign nationals. There are four official languages: English (common and first language), Malay, Mandarin and Tamil, though almost all Singaporeans are bilingual.

Singapore is a unitary multiparty parliamentary republic, with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government. The People’s Action Party has won every election since self-government in 1959. The dominance of the PAP, coupled with a low level of press freedom and restrictions on civil liberties and political rights, has led to Singapore being classified by some as a semi-authoritarian regime. One of the five founding members of ASEAN, Singapore is also the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat and a member of the East Asia Summit, Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth of Nations.

Contents
1 Etymology
2 History
2.1 Ancient Singapore
2.2 British colonisation
2.3 World War II
2.4 Post-war period
2.5 Campaign for merger
2.6 Singapore with Malaysia
2.7 Republic of Singapore
3 Government and politics
3.1 Foreign relations
3.2 Military
4 Geography
4.1 Climate
5 Economy
5.1 Employment
5.2 Industry sectors
6 Infrastructure
6.1 Information and communications
6.2 Transport
6.3 Water supply and sanitation
7 Demographics
7.1 Religion
7.2 Languages
8 Education
9 Health
10 Culture
10.1 Cuisine
10.2 Arts
10.3 Sport and recreation
10.4 Media

Etymology


The English name of Singapore is an anglicisation of the native Malay name for the country, Singapura, which was in turn derived from Sanskrit (सिंहपुर, IAST: Siṃhapura; siṃha is “lion”, pura is “town” or “city”), hence the customary reference to the nation as the Lion City, and its inclusion in many of the nation’s symbols (e.g., its coat of arms, Merlion emblem). However, it is unlikely that lions ever lived on the island; Sang Nila Utama, the Srivijayan prince said to have founded and named the island Singapura, perhaps saw a Malayan tiger. There are however other suggestions for the origin of the name and scholars do not believe that the origin of the name to be firmly established. The central island has also been called Pulau Ujong as far back as the third century CE, literally “island at the end” (of the Malay Peninsula) in Malay.

Besides the Lion City – a translation of its ancient Sanskrit name, Singapore is also referred to as Garden City for its tree-lined streets and greening efforts since independence, and the Little Red Dot for how the island-nation is depicted on many maps of the world and Asia, as a red dot.

History


Ancient Singapore

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A fragment of the Singapore Stone monolith with the earliest writing found on the island, at “Rocky Point” at the mouth of Singapore River, inscribed with an Indic script, c. 10th to 13th century

The Greco-Roman astronomer Ptolemy (90–168) identified a place called Sabana in the general area in the second century, and the earliest written record of Singapore occurs in a Chinese account from the third century, describing the island of Pu Luo Chung (蒲 罗 中). This was itself a transliteration from the Malay name “Pulau Ujong”, or “island at the end” (of the Malay Peninsula). The Nagarakretagama, a Javanese epic poem written in 1365, referred to a settlement on the island called Tumasik (possibly meaning “Sea Town”). In 1299, according to the Malay Annals, the Kingdom of Singapura was founded on the island by Sang Nila Utama.] Although the historicity of the accounts as given in the Malay Annals is the subject of academic debates, it is nevertheless known from various documents that Singapore in the 14th century, then known as Temasek, was a trading port under the influence of both the Majapahit Empire and the Siamese kingdoms inside Indosphere of Greater India. These Indianized Kingdoms, a term coined by George Cœdès were characterized by surprising resilience, political integrity and administrative stability. Historical sources also indicate that around the end of the 14th century, its ruler Parameswara was attacked by either the Majapahit or the Siamese, forcing him to move on to Melaka where he founded the Sultanate of Malacca. Archaeological evidence suggests that the main settlement on Fort Canning was abandoned around this time, although a small trading settlement continued in Singapore for some time afterwards. In 1613, Portuguese raiders burned down the settlement, and the island faded into obscurity for the next two centuries. By then Singapore was nominally part of the Johor Sultanate. The wider maritime region and much trade was under Dutch control for the following period.

British Colonisation

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1825 survey map. Singapore’s free port trade was at Singapore River for 150 years. Fort Canning hill (centre) was home to its ancient and early colonial rulers.

Raffles arrived in Singapore on 28 January 1819 and soon recognised the island as a natural choice for the new port. The island was then nominally ruled by the Sultan of Johor, who was controlled by the Dutch and the Bugis. However, the Sultanate was weakened by factional division and Tengku Abdu’r Rahman and his officials were loyal to Tengku Rahman’s elder brother Tengku Long who was living in exile in Riau. With the Temenggong’s help, Raffles managed to smuggle Tengku Long back into Singapore. He offered to recognize Tengku Long as the rightful Sultan of Johor, given the title of Sultan Hussein and provide him with a yearly payment of $5000 and $3000 to the Temenggong; in return, Sultan Hussein would grant the British the right to establish a trading post on Singapore. A formal treaty was signed on 6 February 1819 and modern Singapore was born.

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Sir Stamford Raffles’s statue at the Singapore River spot where he first landed

In 1824, the entire island as well as the Temenggong became a British possession after a further treaty with the Sultan. In 1826, Singapore became part of the Straits Settlements, under the jurisdiction of British India, becoming the regional capital in 1836. Prior to Raffles’ arrival, there were only about a thousand people living on the island, mostly indigenous Malays along with a handful of Chinese. By 1860 the population had swelled to over 80,000, more than half being Chinese. Many of these early immigrants came to work on the pepper and gambier plantations. Later, in the 1890s, when the rubber industry also became established in Malaya and Singapore, the island became a global centre for rubber sorting and export.

Singapore was not much affected by First World War (1914–18), as the conflict did not spread to Southeast Asia. The only significant event during the war was a mutiny by the Muslim sepoys from British India who were garrisoned in Singapore, which occurred in 1915. After hearing rumours that they were to be sent off to fight the Ottoman Empire, which was a Muslim state, the soldiers rebelled. They killed their officers and several British civilians before the mutiny was suppressed by non-Muslim troops arriving from Johore and Burma.

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Raffles Hotel was established in 1887.

After the First World War, the British built the large Singapore Naval Base as part of the defensive Singapore strategy. Originally announced in 1923, the construction of the base proceeded slowly until the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931. When completed in 1939, at the very large cost of $500 million, it boasted what was then the largest dry dock in the world, the third-largest floating dock, and having enough fuel tanks to support the entire British navy for six months. It was defended by heavy 15-inch naval guns stationed at Fort Siloso, Fort Canning and Labrador, as well as a Royal Air Force airfield at Tengah Air Base. Winston Churchill touted it as the “Gibraltar of the East” and military discussions often referred to the base as simply “East of Suez”. Unfortunately, it was a base without a fleet. The British Home Fleet was stationed in Europe, and the British could not afford to build a second fleet to protect its interests in Asia. The plan was for the Home Fleet to sail quickly to Singapore in the event of an emergency. However, after World War II broke out in 1939, the fleet was fully occupied with defending Britain.

World War II

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Singapore Naval Base, built in 1953

During the Second World War, the Imperial Japanese Army invaded British Malaya, culminating in the Battle of Singapore. When the British force of 60,000 troops surrendered on 15 February 1942, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the defeat “the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history. British losses during the fighting for Singapore were heavy, with a total of nearly 85,000 personnel captured, in addition to losses during the earlier fighting in Malaya. About 5,000 were killed or wounded, of which Australians made up the majority. Japanese casualties during the fighting in Singapore amounted to 1,714 killed and 3,378 wounded. [Note 1]. The occupation was to become a major turning point in the histories of several nations, including those of Japan, Britain, and the then-colonial state of Singapore. Japanese newspapers triumphantly declared the victory as deciding the general situation of the war. Singapore was renamed Syonan-to (昭南島 Shōnan-tō), meaning “Light of the South”. Between 5,000 and 25,000 ethnic Chinese people were killed in the subsequent Sook Ching massacre.

British forces had planned to liberate Singapore in 1945; however, the war ended before these operations could be carried out. It was subsequently re-occupied by British, Indian and Australian forces following the Japanese surrender in September. Meanwhile, Tomoyuki Yamashita was tried by a US military commission for war crimes, but not for crimes committed by his troops in Malaya or Singapore. He was convicted and hanged in the Philippines on 23 February 1946.

Post-war Period

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British evacuation in 1945 after the Japanese surrender. Kallang Airport’s control tower near the city has been conserved.

After the Japanese surrender to the Allies on 15 August 1945, Singapore fell into a brief state of violence and disorder; looting and revenge-killing were widespread. British troops led by Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander for Southeast Asia Command, returned to Singapore to receive formal surrender of the Japanese forces in the region from General Itagaki Seishiro on behalf of General Hisaichi Terauchi on 12 September 1945, and a British Military Administration was formed to govern the island until March 1946. Much of the infrastructure had been destroyed during the war, including harbor facilities at the Port of Singapore. There was also a shortage of food leading to malnutrition, disease, and rampant crime and violence. High food prices, unemployment, and workers’ discontent culminated into a series of strikes in 1947 causing massive stoppages in public transport and other services. By late 1947, the economy began to recover, facilitated by a growing demand for tin and rubber around the world, but it would take several more years before the economy returned to pre-war levels.

The failure of Britain to successfully defend Singapore had destroyed its credibility as infallible ruler in the eyes of Singaporeans. The decades after the war saw a political awakening amongst the local populace and the rise of anti-colonial and nationalist sentiments, epitomized by the slogan Merdeka, or “independence” in the Malay language. The British, on their part, were prepared to gradually increase self-governance for Singapore and Malaya. On 1 April 1946, the Straits Settlements was dissolved and Singapore became a separate Crown Colony with a civil administration headed by a Governor. In July 1947, separate Executive and Legislative Councils were established and the election of six members of the Legislative Council was scheduled in the following year.

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David Marshall was Singapore’s 1st Chief Minister, but resigned a year later.

During the 1950s, Chinese communists with strong ties to the trade unions and Chinese schools waged a guerrilla war against the government, leading to the Malayan Emergency. The 1954 National Service Riots, Chinese middle schools riots, and Hock Lee bus riots in Singapore were all linked to these events. David Marshall, pro-independence leader of the Labour Front, won Singapore’s first general election in 1955. He led a delegation to London, but Britain rejected his demand for complete self-rule. He resigned and was replaced by Lim Yew Hock in 1956, whose policies convinced Britain to grant Singapore full internal self-government for all matters except defence and foreign affairs.

During the May 1959 elections, the People’s Action Party won a landslide victory. Singapore became an internally self-governing state within the Commonwealth, with Lee Kuan Yew as its first Prime Minister. As a result, the 1959 general elections were the first after full internal self-government was granted by the British authorities. Singapore was not yet fully independent, as the British still controlled external affairs such as the military and foreign relations. However, Singapore was now a recognised state. Governor Sir William Allmond Codrington Goode served as the first Yang di-Pertuan Negara (Head of State), and was succeeded by Yusof bin Ishak.

Campaign for Merger

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The founding father of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew declaring the formation of the Federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963 in Singapore, with Sabah and Sarawak also celebrating along.

Despite their successes in governing Singapore, the PAP leaders believed that Singapore’s future lay with Malaya due to strong ties between the two nations. It was thought that the merger would benefit the economy by creating a common market which will support new industries, thus solving the ongoing unemployment woes in Singapore. However, a sizable pro-communist wing of the PAP were strongly opposed to the merger, fearing a loss of influence. This is because the ruling party of Malaya, United Malays National Organisation, was staunchly anti-communist and would support the non-communist faction of PAP against them. UMNO, who were initially skeptical of the idea of a merger as they distrust the PAP government and were concerned that the large Chinese population in Singapore would alter the racial balance on which their political power base depended, changed their minds about the merger after being afraid of being taken over by pro-communists. On 27 May, Malaya’s Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, mooted the idea of a Federation of Malaysia, comprising existing Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Brunei and the British Borneo territories of North Borneo and Sarawak. The UMNO leaders believed that the additional Malay population in the Borneo territories would offset Singapore’s Chinese population. The British government, for its part, believed that the merger would prevent Singapore from becoming a haven for communism.

Singapore with Malaysia

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Lee Kuan Yew

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Tunku Abdul Rahman

Right: Lee Kuan Yew, the then Prime Minister of Singapore. Left: Tunku Adul Rahman, the then Prime Minister of Malaysia.

As a result of the 1962 Merger Referendum, on 16 September 1963 Singapore joined with the Federation of Malaya, the Crown Colony of Sarawak and the Crown Colony of North Borneo to form the new federation of Malaysia under the terms of the Malaysia Agreement. Given Singapore’s limited size and lack of natural resources, it was felt integrating with Malaya would provide a route to stronger economic development. The merger would also give the PAP legitimacy, and remove the threat of communist government over Singapore. However, shortly after the merger, the Singapore state government and the Malaysian central government disagreed on many political and economic issues, and communal strife culminated in the 1964 race riots in Singapore.

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A symbol of Singapore, the Merlion was created in 1964

On 10 March 1965, a bomb planted by Indonesian saboteurs on a mezzanine floor of the building exploded, killing three people and injuring 33 others. It was the deadliest of at least 42 bomb incidents which occurred during the Konfrontasi. Two members of the Indonesian Marine Corps, Osman bin Haji Mohamed Ali and Harun bin Said, were eventually convicted and executed for the crime. The MacDonald House suffered $250,000 bomb damage.

There were many heated ideological conflicts between the two governments, even on the economic front. Despite an earlier agreement to establish a common market, Singapore continued to face restrictions when trading with the rest of Malaysia. In retaliation, Singapore did not extend to Sabah and Sarawak the full extent of the loans agreed to for economic development of the two eastern states. The situation escalated to such an intensity that talks soon broke down and abusive speeches and writing became rife on both sides. Because of this, on 7 August 1965,the then Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, seeing no alternative to avoid further bloodshed, advised the Parliament of Malaysia that it should vote to expel Singapore from Malaysia. On 9 August 1965, the Malaysian Parliament voted 126 to 0 (with Singaporean delegates not present) to move a bill to amend the constitution providing for Singapore to separate from the Federation of Malaysia.

Republic of Singapore

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Financial district (background) 2010

Singapore gained independence as the Republic of Singapore (remaining within the Commonwealth of Nations) on 9 August 1965 with Lee Kuan Yew as the prime minister and Yusof bin Ishak as the president. Race riots broke out once more in 1969. In 1967, the country co-founded the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Lee Kuan Yew became Prime Minister, and the country moved from Third World economy to First World affluence in a single generation. Lee Kuan Yew’s emphasis on rapid economic growth, support for business entrepreneurship, and limitations on internal democracy shaped Singapore’s policies for the next half-century. Further economic success continued through the 1980s, with the unemployment rate falling to 3% and real GDP growth averaging at about 8% up until 1999. During the 1980s, Singapore began to upgrade to higher-technological industries, such as the wafer fabrication sector, in order to compete with its neighbours which now had cheaper labour. Singapore Changi Airport was opened in 1981 and Singapore Airlines was developed to become a major airline. The Port of Singapore became one of the world’s busiest ports and the service and tourism industries also grew immensely during this period. Singapore emerged as an important transportation hub and a major tourist destination.

The PAP rule is termed authoritarian by some activists and opposition politicians who see the strict regulation of political and media activities by the government as an infringement on political rights. In response, the government of Singapore underwent several significant changes. Non-Constituency Members of Parliament were introduced in 1984 to allow up to three losing candidates from opposition parties to be appointed as MPs. Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) was introduced in 1988 to create multi-seat electoral divisions, intended to ensure minority representation in parliament. Nominated Members of Parliament were introduced in 1990 to allow non-elected non-partisan MPs. The Constitution was amended in 1991 to provide for an Elected President who has veto power in the use of national reserves and appointments to public office. The opposition parties have complained that the GRC system has made it difficult for them to gain a foothold in parliamentary elections in Singapore, and the plurality voting system tends to exclude minority parties.

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Lee Hsien Loong – Current and 3rd Prime Minister of Singapore (2004 – )
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Goh Chok Tong – 2nd Prime Minister (1990 – 2004)

In 1990, Goh Chok Tong succeeded Lee and became Singapore’s second Prime Minister. During Goh’s tenure, the country went through some post-independence crises, such as the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2003 SARS outbreak.

In 2004, Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, became the country’s third Prime Minister. Lee Hsien Loong’s tenure included the 2008 global financial crisis, the resolution of a dispute over Malayan railways land, and the introduction of integrated resorts. Despite the economy’s exceptional growth, the People’s Action Party (PAP) suffered its worst election results in 2011, winning 60% of votes, amidst hot-button issues of high influx of foreign workers and cost of living. On 23 March 2015 Lee Kuan Yew passed away, during the 50th year of independence, declaring a one-week period of public mourning. Subsequently, the PAP maintained its dominance in Parliament at the September general elections, receiving 69.9% of the popular vote, its second-highest polling result behind the 2001 tally of 75.3%.

Government and Politics


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Singapore’s Parliament House, beside the Singapore River.

Singapore is a parliamentary republic with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government representing constituencies. The country’s constitution establishes a representative democracy as the political system. Executive power rests with the Cabinet of Singapore, led by the Prime Minister and, to a much lesser extent, the President. The President is elected through a popular vote, and has veto powers over a specific set of executive decisions, such as the use of the national reserves and the appointment of judges, but otherwise occupies a largely ceremonial post.

The Parliament serves as the legislative branch of the government. Members of Parliament (MPs) consist of elected, non-constituency and nominated members. Elected MPs are voted into the Parliament on a “first-past-the-post” (plurality) basis and represent either single-member or group representation constituencies. The People’s Action Party has won control of Parliament with large majorities in every election since self-governance was secured in 1959.

Although the elections are clean, there is no independent electoral authority and the government has strong influence on the media. Freedom House ranks Singapore as “partly free” in its Freedom in the World report, and The Economist ranks Singapore as a “flawed democracy”, the second best rank of four, in its “Democracy Index”. The latest elections were in September 2015, with the PAP winning 83 of 89 seats contested with 70% of the popular vote.

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New and old Supreme Court buildings. The Court of Appeal occupies the ‘disc’ atop, representing the highest level of justice, and a modern interpretation of the dome.

The legal system of Singapore is based on English common law, but with substantial local differences. Trial by jury was abolished in 1970 so that judicial decisions would rest entirely in the hands of appointed judges. Singapore has penalties that include judicial corporal punishment in the form of caning, which may be imposed for such offences as rape, rioting, vandalism, and certain immigration offences. There is Capital punishment in Singapore for murder, as well as for certain aggravated drug-trafficking and firearms offences.

Amnesty International has said that some legal provisions of the Singapore system conflict with the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and that Singapore has “… possibly the highest execution rate in the world relative to its population”. The government has disputed Amnesty’s claims. Singapore’s judicial system is considered one of the most reliable in Asia.

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Speakers’ Corner in Chinatown provides a public demonstration and “free speech” area usually restricted in other parts of the island.

Singapore has been consistently rated among the least corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International. Singapore’s unique combination of a strong almost authoritarian government with an emphasis on meritocracy and good governance is known as the “Singapore model”, and is regarded as a key factor behind Singapore’s political stability, economic growth, and harmonious social order. In 2011, the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index ranked Singapore among the top countries surveyed with regard to “order and security”, “absence of corruption”, and “effective criminal justice”. However, the country received a much lower ranking for “freedom of speech” and “freedom of assembly”. All public gatherings of five or more people require police permits, and protests may legally be held only at the Speakers’ Corner.

Foreign Relations

Singapore’s foreign policy is aimed at maintaining security in Southeast Asia and surrounding territories. An underlying principle is political and economic stability in the region. It has diplomatic relations with more than 180 sovereign states.

Barack Obama attends the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) meeting at ASEAN Summit 2012

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and US President Barack Obama attended the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) meeting at ASEAN Summit 2012.

As one of the five founding members of ASEAN, it is a strong supporter of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and the ASEAN Investment Area, because Singapore’s economy is closely linked to that of the region as a whole. Former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong proposed the formation of an ASEAN Economic Community, a step beyond the current AFTA, bringing it closer to a common market. This was agreed to in 2007 for implementation by 2015. Other regional organisations are important to Singapore, and it is the host of the APEC Secretariat. Singapore maintains membership in other regional organisations, such as Asia–Europe Meeting, the Forum for East Asia-Latin American Cooperation, the Indian Ocean Rim Association, and the East Asia Summit. It is also a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth. While Singapore is not a formal member of the G20, it has been invited to participate in G20 processes in most years since 2010.

In general, bilateral relations with other ASEAN members are strong; however, disagreements have arisen, and relations with neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia have sometimes been strained. Malaysia and Singapore have clashed over the delivery of fresh water to Singapore, and access by the Singapore Armed Forces to Malaysian airspace. Border issues exist with Malaysia and Indonesia, and both have banned the sale of marine sand to Singapore over disputes about Singapore’s land reclamation. Some previous disputes, such as the Pedra Branca dispute, have been resolved by the International Court of Justice. Piracy in the Strait of Malacca has been a cause of concern for all three countries. Close economic ties exist with Brunei, and the two share a pegged currency value, through a Currency Interchangeability Agreement between the two countries which makes both Brunei dollar and Singapore dollar banknotes and coins legal tender in either country.

Ambassador to the USA Chan Heng Chee, Lee Kuan Yew, and US Secretary of Defense William Cohen in a room

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Then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Ambassador to the US Chan Heng Chee, met with US Secretary of Defense William Cohen during a visit in 2000.

The first diplomatic contact with China was made in the 1970s, with full diplomatic relations established in the 1990s. Since then the two countries have been major players in strengthening the ASEAN–China relationship. Singapore and the United States share a long-standing close relationship, in particular in defence, the economy, health, and education. The United States was Singapore’s third largest trading partner in 2010, behind China (2nd) and Malaysia (1st). The two countries have a free-trade agreement, and Singapore views its relationship with the United States as an important counterbalance to China’s influence. A Strategic Framework Agreement between the two, signed in 2005, formalises security and defence co-operation. Singapore has pushed regional counter-terrorism initiatives, with a strong resolve to deal with terrorists inside its borders. To this end it has given support to the US-led coalition to fight terrorism, with bilateral co-operation in counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation initiatives, and joint military exercises.

Military

The Singaporean military is arguably the most technologically advanced in Southeast Asia. It comprises the Singapore Army, Republic of Singapore Navy, and Republic of Singapore Air Force. It is seen as the guarantor of the country’s independence. This principle translates into the culture, involving all citizens in the country’s defence. The government spends 4.9% of the country’s GDP on the military—high by regional standards—and one out of every four dollars of government spending is spent on defence.

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Singapore Air Force’s F-15SG are Strike Eagle variants (24 units). Pilots also train in Australia, France and the United States due to severe airspace constraints.

After its independence, Singapore had two infantry regiments commanded by British officers. This force was considered too small to provide effective security for the new country, so development of its military forces became a priority. Britain pulled its military out of Singapore in October 1971, leaving behind only a small British, Australian and New Zealand force as a token military presence. The last British soldier left Singapore in March 1976. New Zealand troops were the last to leave, in 1989.

A great deal of initial support came from Israel, a country that is not recognised by the neighbouring Muslim-majority nations of Malaysia, Indonesia, or Brunei. The main fear after independence was an invasion by Malaysia. Israeli Defense Force (IDF) commanders were tasked with creating the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) from scratch, and Israeli instructors were brought in to train Singaporean soldiers. Military courses were conducted according to the IDF’s format, and Singapore adopted a system of conscription and reserve service based on the Israeli model. Singapore still maintains strong security ties with Israel and is one of the biggest buyers of Israeli arms and weapons systems. The MATADOR is one example of recent Singaporean–Israeli collaboration.

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Republic of Singapore Navy’s RSS Steadfast and RSS Vigilance sailing line-abreast during CARAT Singapore 2010.

The SAF is being developed to respond to a wide range of issues, in both conventional and unconventional warfare. The Defence Science and Technology Agency is responsible for procuring resources for the military. The geographic restrictions of Singapore mean that the SAF must plan to fully repulse an attack, as they can not fall back and re-group. The small size of the population has also affected the way the SAF has been designed, with a small active force but a large number of reserves.

Singapore has conscription for all able-bodied males at age 18, except those with a criminal record or who can prove that their loss would bring hardship to their families. Males who have yet to complete pre-university education or are awarded the Public Service Commission scholarship can opt to defer their draft. Though not required to perform military service, the number of women in the SAF has been increasing: since 1989 they have been allowed to fill military vocations formerly reserved for men. Before induction into a specific branch of the armed forces, recruits undergo at least 9 weeks of basic military training.

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Flag lowering by Singapore troops in Afghanistan.

Because of the scarcity of open land on the main island, training involving activities such as live firing and amphibious warfare is often carried out on smaller islands, typically barred to civilian access. This also avoids risk to the main island and the city. However, large-scale drills are considered too dangerous to be performed in the area, and since 1975 have been performed in Taiwan. Training is also held in about a dozen other countries. In general, military exercises are held with foreign forces once or twice per week.

Due to airspace and land constraints, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) maintains a number of overseas bases in Australia, the United States, and France. The RSAF’s 130 Squadron is based in RAAF Base Pearce, Western Australia, and its 126 Squadron is based in the Oakey Army Aviation Centre, Queensland. The RSAF has one squadron—the 150 Squadron—based in Cazaux Air Base in southern France. The RSAF also has a few overseas detachments in the United States, in San Diego, California, Marana, Arizona, Grand Prairie, Texas and Luke Air Force Base, among others.

The SAF has sent forces to assist in operations outside the country, in areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan, in both military and civilian roles. In the region, it has helped stabilise East Timor and has provided aid to Aceh in Indonesia following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. In 2014, the RSN deployed two ships, the RSS Resolute and the Tenacious to the Gulf of Aden to aid in counter piracy efforts as part of Task Force 151. The SAF also helped in relief efforts during Hurricane Katrina and Typhoon Haiyan. Singapore is part of the Five Power Defence Arrangements, a military alliance with Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Geography


Map showing Singapore island and the territories belonging to Singapore and its neighbours

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An outline of Singapore and the surrounding islands and waterways.

Singapore consists of 63 islands, including the main island, Pulau Ujong. There are two man-made connections to Johor, Malaysia: the Johor–Singapore Causeway in the north and the Tuas Second Link in the west. Jurong Island, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin and Sentosa are the largest of Singapore’s smaller islands. The highest natural point is Bukit Timah Hill at 163.63 m (537 ft).

Ongoing land reclamation projects have increased Singapore’s land area from 581.5 km2 (224.5 sq mi) in the 1960s to 719.1 km2 (277.6 sq mi) in 2015, an increase of some 23% (130 km2). The country is projected to grow by another 100 km2 (40 sq mi) by 2030. Some projects involve merging smaller islands through land reclamation to form larger, more functional islands, as has been done with Jurong Island.

Singapore’s urbanisation means that it has lost 95% of its historical forests, and now over half of the naturally occurring fauna and flora in Singapore is present in nature reserves, such as the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, which comprise only 0.25% of Singapore’s land area. To combat this decline, in 1967 the government introduced the vision of making Singapore a “garden city” aiming to soften the harshness of urbanisation and improve the quality of life. Since then, nearly 10% of Singapore’s land has been set aside for parks and nature reserves. The government also has plans to preserve the remaining wildlife. Singapore was ranked fourth in the 2014 Environmental Performance Index, which measures the effectiveness of state policies for environmental sustainability.

Climate

Climate data for Singapore

Singapore has a tropical rainforest climate (Köppen: Af) with no distinctive seasons, uniform temperature and pressure, high humidity, and abundant rainfall. Temperatures usually range from 22 to 35 °C (72 to 95 °F). While temperature does not vary greatly throughout the year, there is a wetter monsoon season from November to January.

From July to October, there is often haze caused by bush fires in neighbouring Indonesia, usually from the island of Sumatra. Although Singapore does not observe daylight saving time (DST), it follows the GMT+8 time zone, one hour ahead of the typical zone for its geographical location.

Economy


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Britain’s visiting Red Arrows fly over the Gardens by the bay

Singapore has a highly developed market economy, based historically on extended entrepôt trade. Along with Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan, Singapore is one of the original Four Asian Tigers, but has surpassed its peers in terms of GDP per capita. Between 1965 and 1995, growth rates averaged around 6 per cent per annum, transforming the living standards of the population. The Singaporean economy is known as one of the freest, most innovative, most competitive, most dynamic and most business-friendly. The 2015 Index of Economic Freedom ranks Singapore as the second freest economy in the world and the Ease of Doing Business Index has also ranked Singapore as the easiest place to do business for the past decade. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index, Singapore is consistently perceived as one of the least corrupt countries in the world, along with New Zealand and the Scandinavian countries. In 2016, Singapore is rated the world’s most expensive city for the third consecutive year by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

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The integrated resort of Marina Bay Sands that opened in 2010 is one of the world’s most photographed buildings.

For several years, Singapore has been one of the few countries with an AAA credit rating from the “big three”, and the only Asian country to achieve this rating. Singapore attracts a large amount of foreign investment as a result of its location, skilled workforce, low tax rates, advanced infrastructure and zero-tolerance against corruption. Singapore has the world’s eleventh largest foreign reserves, and one of the highest net international investment position per capita. There are more than 7,000 multinational corporations from the United States, Japan, and Europe in Singapore. There are also approximately 1,500 companies from China and a similar number from India. Foreign firms are found in almost all sectors of the country’s economy. Roughly 44 percent of the Singaporean workforce is made up of non-Singaporeans. Over ten free-trade agreements have been signed with other countries and regions. Despite market freedom, Singapore’s government operations have a significant stake in the economy, contributing 22% of the GDP.

Singapore is the second-largest foreign investor in India. It is the 14th largest exporter and the 15th largest importer in the world.

Economy Statistics (Recent Years) : Year 2011 To Year 2014

Economy Statistics

The currency of Singapore is the Singapore dollar (SGD or S$), issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). It is interchangeable with the Brunei dollar at par value since 1967, owing to their historically close relations. MAS manages its monetary policy by allowing the Singapore dollar exchange rate to rise or fall within an undisclosed trading band. This is different from most central banks, which use interest rates to manage policy.

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Singapore Airlines celebrated Golden Jubilee with its Airbus A380 in ‘SG50’ livery.

In recent years, the country has been identified as an increasingly popular tax haven for the wealthy due to the low tax rate on personal income and tax exemptions on foreign-based income and capital gains. Australian millionaire retailer Brett Blundy and multi-billionaire Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin are two examples of wealthy individuals who have settled in Singapore (Blundy in 2013 and Saverin in 2012). In 2009, Singapore was removed from the OCDE “liste grise” of tax havens, but ranked fourth on the Tax Justice Network’s 2015 Financial Secrecy Index of the world’s off-shore financial service providers, banking one-eighth of the world’s off-shore capital, while “providing numerous tax avoidance and evasion opportunities”. In August 2016, The Straits Times reported that Indonesia had decided to create tax havens on two islands near Singapore to bring Indonesian capital back into the tax base. In October 2016, the Monetary Authority of Singapore admonished and fined UBS and DBS and withdrew Falcon Private Bank’s banking license for their alleged role in the Malaysian Sovereign Fund scandal.

Singapore has the world’s highest percentage of millionaires, with one out of every six households having at least one million US dollars in disposable wealth. This excludes property, businesses, and luxury goods, which if included would increase the number of millionaires, especially as property in Singapore is among the world’s most expensive.

Singapore does not have a minimum wage, believing that it would lower its competitiveness. It also has one of the highest income inequalities among developed countries.

Employment

Singapore traditionally has one of the lowest unemployment rates among developed countries. The unemployment rate did not exceed 4% from 2005 to 2014, hitting highs of 3.1% in 2005 and 3% during the 2009 global financial crisis; it fell to 1.8% in the first quarter of 2015.

The government provides numerous assistance programmes to the homeless and needy through the Ministry of Social and Family Development, so acute poverty is rare. Some of the programmes include providing between SGD400 and SGD1000 per month to needy households, providing free medical care at government hospitals, and paying for children’s school fees. The Singapore government also provides numerous benefits to its citizenry, including: free money to encourage residents to exercise in public gyms, up to $166,000 worth of baby bonus benefits for each baby born to a citizen, heavily subsidised healthcare, money to help the disabled, cheap laptops for poor students, rebates for numerous areas such as public transport, utility bills and more.

Although it has been recognised that foreign workers are crucial to the country’s economy, the government is considering capping these workers, as foreign workers make up 80% of the construction industry and up to 50% of the service industry. To keep an effective tap on the issue of immigration and to also attract foreign talents at the same time, the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) issues employment pass under three categories viz: P1 Employment Pass for those individuals with monthly earning of $8,000 and up, P2 Employment Pass for individuals with monthly earning of $4,500–7,999 and Q1 Employment Pass individuals with at least a monthly earning of $3,000.

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A view of the cityscape and anchored ships from Singapore’s Eastern Anchorage off the East Coast Park

Industry Sectors

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Singapore Exports by Product (2014)

Globally, Singapore is a leader in several economic sectors, including being 3rd-largest foreign exchange centre, 3rd-leading financial centre, 2nd-largest casino gambling market, 3rd-largest oil-refining and trading centre, world’s largest oil-rig producer and major hub for ship repair services, world’s top logistics hub.

The economy is diversified, with its top contributors – financial services, manufacturing, oil-refining. Its main exports are refined petroleum, integrated circuits and computers ] which constituted 27% of the country’s GDP in 2010, and includes significant electronics, petroleum refining, chemicals, mechanical engineering and biomedical sciences sectors. In 2006, Singapore produced about 10% of the world’s foundry wafer output.

Singapore’s largest companies are in the telecoms, banking, transportation and manufacturing sectors, many of which started as state-run enterprises, and has since been listed on the Singapore Exchange, including Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel), Singapore Technologies Engineering, Keppel Corporation, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), Development Bank of Singapore (DBS), United Overseas Bank (UOB). In 2011, amidst the global financial crisis, OCBC, DBS and UOB were ranked as the world’s 1st, 5th, 6th “strongest banks in the world” respectively by Bloomberg surveys.

The nation’s best known global brands include Singapore Airlines, Changi Airport and Port of Singapore, all three are amongst the most-awarded in their respective industry sectors. Singapore Airlines is ranked as Asia’s most-admired company, and world’s 19th most-admired in 2015, by Fortune’s annual “50 most admired companies in the world” industry surveys. It is also the world’s most-awarded airline, including “Best international airline”, by US-based Travel + Leisure reader surveys, for 20 consecutive years. Changi Airport connects over 100 airlines to more than 300 cities. The strategic international air hub has more than 480 “World’s Best Airport” awards as of 2015, and is known as the most-awarded airport in the world.

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Universal Studios’ Hollywood Boulevard, on Sentosa island.

Tourism forms a large part of the economy, with over 15 million tourists visiting the city-state in 2014. To expand the sector, casinos were legalised in 2005, but only two licenses for “Integrated Resorts” were issued, to control money laundering and addiction. Singapore also promotes itself as a medical tourism hub: about 200,000 foreigners seek medical care there each year. Singapore medical services aim to serve at least one million foreign patients annually and generate USD3 billion in revenue. In 2015, Lonely Planet and The New York Times listed Singapore as their top and 6th best world destination to visit respectively.

Singapore is an education hub, with more than 80,000 international students in 2006. 5,000 Malaysian students cross the Johor–Singapore Causeway daily to attend schools in Singapore. In 2009, 20% of all students in Singaporean universities were international students – the maximum cap allowed, a majority from ASEAN, China and India.

Infrastructure


Information and communications

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The Ministry of Communications and Information oversees the development of Infocomms, Media and the Arts.

Information and communications technologies (ICT) is one of the pillars of Singapore’s economic success. However, Singapore’s mass communications networks, including television and phone networks, have long been operated by the government. When Singapore first came online, Singaporeans could use Teleview to communicate with each other, but no one outside of their sovereign city-state. Publications such as The Wall Street Journal were censored.

The ‘Intelligent Island’ is a term used to describe Singapore in the 1990s, in reference to the island nation’s early adaptive relationship with the internet. The term is referenced in William Gibson’s 1993 essay Disneyland with the Death Penalty.

The World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Technology Report placed Singapore as the most “Tech-Ready Nation”. It is the most comprehensive survey of the pervasiveness and network-readiness of a country, in terms of market, political and regulatory infrastructure for connectivity. Singapore has also topped Waseda University’s International e-Government rankings from 2009 to 2013, and 2015.

Singapore has the world’s highest smartphone penetration rates, in surveys by Deloitte and Google Consumer Barometer – at 89% and 85% of the population respectively in 2014. Overall mobile phone penetration rate is at 148 mobile phone subscribers per 100 people.

Internet in Singapore is provided by state owned Singtel and partially state owned Starhub and M1 Limited plus some other business internet service providers (ISPs) that offer residential service plans of speeds up to 2 Gbit/s as of Spring 2015.

Equinix (332 participants) and also it’s smaller brother Singapore Internet Exchange (70 participants) are Internet exchange points where Internet service providers and Content delivery networks exchange Internet traffic between their networks (autonomous systems) in various locations in Singapore.

Transport

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Electronic Road Pricing gantry (road sign) at Beach Road.

As Singapore is a small island with a high population density, the number of private cars on the road is restricted so as to curb pollution and congestion. Car buyers must pay for duties one-and-a-half times the vehicle’s market value, and bid for a Singaporean Certificate of Entitlement (COE), which allows the car to run on the road for a decade. The cost of the Singaporean certificate of entitlement alone would buy a Porsche Boxster in the United States. Car prices are generally significantly higher in Singapore than in other English-speaking countries. As with most Commonwealth countries, vehicles on the road and people walking on the streets keep to the left.

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A Singapore MRT train at Eunos station

Singaporean residents also travel by bicycles, bus, taxis and train (MRT or LRT). Two companies run the train transport system—SBS Transit and SMRT Corporation. Four companies, Go-Ahead, Tower-Transit, SBS Transit and SMRT Corporation run the public buses under a ‘Bus Contracting Model’ where operators bid for routes. There are six taxi companies, who together put out over 28,000 taxis on the road. Taxis are a popular form of public transport as the fares are relatively cheap compared to many other developed countries.

Singapore has a road system covering 3,356 kilometres (2,085 mi), which includes 161 kilometres (100 mi) of expressways. The Singapore Area Licensing Scheme, implemented in 1975, became the world’s first congestion pricing scheme, and included other complementary measures such as stringent car ownership quotas and improvements in mass transit. Upgraded in 1998 and renamed Electronic Road Pricing, the system introduced electronic toll collection, electronic detection, and video surveillance technology.

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Changi Airport continues to expand with a 4th Terminal and mixed-use complex Jewel by 2018

Singapore is a major international transport hub in Asia, serving some of the busiest sea and air trade routes. Changi Airport is an aviation centre for Southeast Asia and a stopover on the Kangaroo Route between Sydney and London. There are eight airports in the country, and Singapore Changi Airport hosts a network of over 100 airlines connecting Singapore to some 300 cities in about 70 countries and territories worldwide. It has been rated one of the best international airports by international travel magazines, including being rated as the world’s best airport for the first time in 2006 by Skytrax. The national airline is Singapore Airlines.

The Port of Singapore, managed by port operators PSA International and Jurong Port, was the world’s second-busiest port in 2005 in terms of shipping tonnage handled, at 1.15 billion gross tons, and in terms of containerised traffic, at 23.2 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). It is also the world’s second-busiest, behind Shanghai, in terms of cargo tonnage with 423 million tons handled. In addition, the port is the world’s busiest for transshipment traffic and the world’s biggest ship refuelling centre.

1280px-Singapore_port_panoramaThe Port of Singapore, one of the top two busiest container ports in the world since the 1990s. Sentosa island in the background

Water Supply and Sanitation

Access to water is universal, affordable, efficient and of high quality. Innovative integrated water management approaches such as the reuse of reclaimed water, the establishment of protected areas in urban rainwater catchments and the use of estuaries as freshwater reservoirs have been introduced along with seawater desalination to reduce the country’s dependence on water imported from neighbouring Malaysia.

Singapore’s approach does not rely only on physical infrastructure, but it also emphasises proper legislation and enforcement, water pricing, public education as well as research and development.

Demographics


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Chinese and Malay women in Singapore, circa 1890

As of mid-2015, the estimated population of Singapore was 5,535,000 people, 3,375,000 (60.98%) of whom were citizens, while the remaining 2,160,000 (39.02%) were permanent residents (527,700) or foreign students/foreign workers/dependants (1,632,300). According to the country’s most recent census in 2010, nearly 23% of Singaporean residents (i.e. citizens and permanent residents) were foreign born (which means about 10% of Singapore citizens were foreign-born naturalised citizens); if non-residents were counted, nearly 43% of the total population were foreign born.

The same census also reports that about 74.1% of residents were of Chinese descent, 13.4% of Malay descent, 9.2% of Indian descent, and 3.3% of other (including Eurasian) descent. Prior to 2010, each person could register as a member of only one race, by default that of his or her father, therefore mixed-race persons were solely grouped under their father’s race in government censuses. From 2010 onward, people may register using a multi-racial classification, in which they may choose one primary race and one secondary race, but no more than two.

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High-rise HDB flats in Bishan overlooking Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park

90.3% of resident households (i.e. households headed by a Singapore citizen or permanent resident) own the homes they live in, and the average household size is 3.43 persons (which include dependants who are neither citizens nor permanent residents). However, due to scarcity of land, 80.4% of resident households live in subsidised, high-rise, public housing apartments known as “HDB flats” because of the government board (Housing and Development Board) responsible for public housing in the country. Also, 75.9% of resident households live in properties that are equal to, or larger than, a four-room (i.e. three bedrooms plus one living room) HDB flat or in private housing. Live-in foreign domestic workers are quite common in Singapore, with about 224,500 foreign domestic workers there, as of December 2013.

The median age of Singaporean residents is 39.3, and the total fertility rate is estimated to be 0.80 children per woman in 2014, the lowest in the world and well below the 2.1 needed to replace the population. To overcome this problem, the Singapore government has been encouraging foreigners to immigrate to Singapore for the past few decades. The large number of immigrants has kept Singapore’s population from declining.

Religion

Religion

Buddhism is the most widely practised religion in Singapore, with 33% of the resident population declaring themselves adherents at the most recent census. The next-most practised religion is Christianity, followed by Islam, Taoism, and Hinduism. 17% of the population did not have a religious affiliation. The proportion of Christians, Taoists, and non-religious people increased between 2000 and 2010 by about 3% each, whilst the proportion of Buddhists decreased. Other faiths remained largely stable in their share of the population. An analysis by the Pew Research Center found Singapore to be the world’s most religiously diverse nation.

There are monasteries and Dharma centres from all three major traditions of Buddhism in Singapore: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Most Buddhists in Singapore are Chinese and are of the Mahayana tradition, with missionaries having come into the country from Taiwan and China for several decades. However, Thailand’s Theravada Buddhism has seen growing popularity among the populace (not only the Chinese) during the past decade. The religion of Soka Gakkai International, a Japanese Buddhist organisation, is practised by many people in Singapore, but mostly by those of Chinese descent. Tibetan Buddhism has also made slow inroads into the country in recent years.

Languages

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A multilingual sign in Singapore’s four official languages: English, Chinese, Tamil, Malay.

Singapore has four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil. English is the common language, and is the language of business, government, and the medium of instruction in schools. Public bodies in Singapore, such as the Singapore Public Service, (which includes the Singapore Civil Service and other agencies), conduct their business in English, and official documents written in a non-English official language such as Malay, Chinese or Tamil typically have to be translated into English to be accepted for submission.

The Constitution of Singapore and all laws are written in English, and interpreters are required if one wishes to address the Singaporean Courts in a language other than English. English is the native tongue for only one-third of all Singaporeans, with roughly a quarter of all Singaporean Malays, a third of all Singaporean Chinese, and half of all Singaporean Indians speaking it as their native tongue. Twenty percent of Singaporeans cannot read or write in English.

Singaporeans are mostly bilingual, with English as their common language and usually the mother-tongue as a second language taught in schools, in order to preserve each individual’s ethnic identity and values. The official languages amongst Singaporeans are English (80% literacy), Mandarin (65% literacy), Malay (17% literacy), and Tamil (4% literacy).] Singapore English is based on British English, and forms of English spoken in Singapore range from Standard Singapore English to a colloquial form known as “Singlish”. Singlish is discouraged by the government.

Languages

English is the language spoken by most Singaporeans at home, 36.9% of the population, just ahead of Mandarin. Nearly half a million speak other varieties of Chinese, mainly Hokkien, Teochew, and Cantonese, as their home language, although the use of these is declining in favour of Mandarin and English. Singapore Chinese characters are written using simplified Chinese characters.

Malay was chosen as a national language by the Singaporean government after independence from Britain in the 1960s to avoid friction with Singapore’s Malay-speaking neighbours—Malaysia and Indonesia. It has a symbolic, rather than functional purpose. It is used in the national anthem “Majulah Singapura”, in citations of Singaporean orders and decorations, and in military commands. In general, Malay is spoken mainly within the Singaporean Malay community, with only 17% of all Singaporeans literate in Malay and only 12% using it as their native language. While Singaporean Malay is officially written in the Latin-based Rumi script, some Singaporean Malays still learn the Arabic-based Jawi script as children alongside Rumi, and Jawi is considered an ethnic script for use on Singaporean Identity Cards.

Around 100,000, or 3%, of Singaporeans speak Tamil as their native language. Tamil has official status in Singapore and there have been no attempts to discourage the use of other Indian languages.

Education


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Singapore Management University is one of six public universities in the city-state.

Education for primary, secondary, and tertiary levels is mostly supported by the state. All institutions, private and public, must be registered with the Ministry of Education. English is the language of instruction in all public schools, and all subjects are taught and examined in English except for the “mother tongue” language paper. While the term “mother tongue” in general refers to the first language internationally, in Singapore’s education system, it is used to refer to the second language, as English is the first language. Students who have been abroad for a while, or who struggle with their “Mother Tongue” language, are allowed to take a simpler syllabus or drop the subject.

Education takes place in three stages: primary, secondary, and pre-university education. Only the primary level is compulsory. Students begin with six years of primary school, which is made up of a four-year foundation course and a two-year orientation stage. The curriculum is focused on the development of English, the mother tongue, mathematics, and science. Secondary school lasts from four to five years, and is divided between Special, Express, Normal (Academic), and Normal (Technical) streams in each school, depending on a student’s ability level. The basic coursework breakdown is the same as in the primary level, although classes are much more specialised. Pre-university education takes place over two to three years at senior schools, mostly called Junior Colleges.

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Hwa Chong Institution was the first Chinese institution of higher learning in Southeast Asia in 1919.

National examinations are standardised across all schools, with a test taken after each stage. After the first six years of education, students take the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), which determines their placement at secondary school. At the end of the secondary stage, GCE “O”-Level or “N”-level exams are taken; at the end of the following pre-university stage, the GCE “A”-Level exams are taken. Some schools have a degree of freedom in their curriculum and are known as autonomous schools, for secondary education level and above.]

Post-secondary education institutions include 5 polytechnics, institutes of technical education (ITEs), 6 public universities of which the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University are among the top 20 universities in the world.

Singapore students excelled in most of the world education benchmarks in maths, science and reading. In 2015, both its primary and secondary students rank first in OECD’s global school performance rankings across 76 countries – described as the most comprehensive map of education standards. In 2016, Singapore students topped both the Program International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

In the 2015 International Baccalaureate exams taken in 107 countries, Singapore students fared best with more than half of the world’s 81 perfect scorers and 98% passing rate. In the 2016 EF English Proficiency Index taken in 72 countries, Singapore place 6th and has been the only Asian country in the top ten. Singapore literature students has won the Angus Ross Prize by Cambridge Examinations every year since 1987 (except in 2000), awarded to the top A-level English literature student outside Britain, with about 12,000 international candidates.

Health


1280px-Bowyer_Block,_SGH

Singapore General Hospital Museum is housed in the “Bowyer Block”

Singapore has a generally efficient healthcare system, even though their health expenditures are relatively low for developed countries. The World Health Organisation ranks Singapore’s healthcare system as 6th overall in the world in its World Health Report. In general, Singapore has had the lowest infant mortality rate in the world for the past two decades. Life expectancy in Singapore is 80 for males and 85 for females, placing the country 4th in the world for life expectancy. Almost the whole population has access to improved water and sanitation facilities. There are fewer than 10 annual deaths from HIV per 100,000 people. There is a high level of immunisation. Adult obesity is below 10%. The Economist Intelligence Unit, in its 2013 “Where-to-be-born Index”, ranks Singapore as having the best quality of life in Asia and sixth overall in the world.

The government’s healthcare system is based upon the “3M” framework. This has three components: Medifund, which provides a safety net for those not able to otherwise afford healthcare, Medisave, a compulsory national medical savings account system covering about 85% of the population, and Medishield, a government-funded health insurance program. Public hospitals in Singapore have autonomy in their management decisions, and compete for patients. A subsidy scheme exists for those on low income. In 2008, 32% of healthcare was funded by the government. It accounts for approximately 3.5% of Singapore’s GDP.

Culture


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1024px-The_Sultan_Mosque_at_Kampong_Glam,_Singapore_(8125148933)

Sultan Mosque, a historic mosque in Kampong Glam.

Despite its small size, Singapore has a diversity of languages, religions, and cultures. Former Prime Ministers of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong, have stated that Singapore does not fit the traditional description of a nation, calling it a society-in-transition, pointing out the fact that Singaporeans do not all speak the same language, share the same religion, or have the same customs. Even though English is the first language of the nation, according to the 2010 census, 20% of Singaporeans are illiterate in English. This is however an improvement from 1990, when 40% of Singaporeans were illiterate in English.

Sri_Mariamman_Temple_Singapore_3_amk

Ornate details on top of Sri Mariamman Temple in Chinatown district, Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple since 1827

From 1819, it served as a trading port for British ships on their way to India. Being a major trading hub and its close proximity to its neighbor Malaysia, Singapore was prone to many foreign influences, both from Britain and from other Asian countries. Chinese and Indian workers moved to Singapore to work at the harbor. The country remained a British colony until 1942.

When Singapore became independent from the United Kingdom in 1963, most Singaporean citizens were uneducated labourers from Malaysia, China and India. Many were transient labourers, seeking to make some money in Singapore, with no intention of staying permanently. There was also a sizeable minority of middle-class, locally-born people—known as Peranakans or Baba-Nyonya—descendants of 15th and 16th-century Chinese immigrants. With the exception of the Peranakans who pledged their loyalties to Singapore, most of the labourers’ loyalties lay with their respective homelands of Malaysia, China and India. After independence, the government began a deliberate process of crafting a Singaporean identity and culture.

576px-Teochew_Building,_Mar_06

Clan associations played an important role in preserving ethnic dialects and cultural practices in the early years.

Each Singaporean’s behaviours and attitudes are influenced by, among other things, his or her home language and his religion. Singaporeans who speak English as their native language tend to lean toward Western culture, while those who speak Chinese as their native language tend to lean toward Chinese culture and Confucianism. Malay-speaking Singaporeans tend to lean toward Malay culture, which itself is closely linked to Islamic culture.[original research?]

Racial and religious harmony is regarded by Singaporeans as a crucial part of Singapore’s success, and played a part in building a Singaporean identity.

The national flower of Singapore is the hybrid orchid, Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’, named in memory of a Singapore-born Armenian woman, who crossbred the flower in her garden at Tanjong Pagar in 1893. Many national symbols such as the Coat of arms of Singapore and the Lion head symbol of Singapore make use of the lion, as Singapore is known as the Lion City. Major religious festivals are public holidays.

Singapore has a reputation as a nanny state. However, the government places heavy emphasis on meritocracy, where one is judged based on one’s ability.

1280px-Chinese_New_Year_market

A scene in a street market in Chinatown, Singapore, during the Chinese New Year holidays.

1024px-A_day_of_devotion_–_Thaipusam_in_Singapore_(4316108409)

Thaipusam procession in Singapore

St_Andrew's_Cathedral,_Singapore_2012

Saint Andrew’s Cathedral in the Civic District has existed since 1836.

Cuisine

1280px-Chinese_New_Year_market

Lau Pa Sat hawker centre in the midst of the financial district. Satay cart-stalls rolls in after dusk, on a side street

The diversity of food is touted as a reason to visit the country, and the variety of food representing different ethnicities is seen by the government as a symbol of its multiculturalism.

In popular culture, food items belong to a particular ethnicity, with Chinese, Malay, and Indian food clearly defined. However, the diversity of cuisine has been increased further by the “hybridisation” of different styles (e.g., the Peranakan cuisine, a mix of Chinese and Malay cuisine).

Arts

The_Esplanade_–_Theatres_on_the_Bay

Esplanade performing arts centre, fronting Marina Bay.

1280px-Supertree_Grove_Singapore_(36623029551)_(2)

Supertree Grove in Gardens by the bay

Since the 1990s, the government has been promoting Singapore as a centre for arts and culture, in particular the performing arts, and to transform the country into a cosmopolitan “gateway between the East and West”. For example:

  • The Esplanade, a performing arts centre opened in October 2002.
  • The national orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, plays at the Esplanade.
  • The annual Singapore Arts Festival is organised by the National Arts Council.
  • The stand-up comedy scene has been growing, with a weekly open mic.

Sport and Recreation

Seating_at_Singapore_National_Stadium

The National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub in Kallang.

Popular sports include walking, jogging, swimming, badminton, football and basketball. Most Singaporeans live in public residential areas (known as “HDB flats”) near amenities such as public swimming pools, outdoor basketball courts and indoor sport complexes. Water sports are popular, including sailing, kayaking and water skiing. Scuba diving is another popular recreational sport.

Singapore’s football league, the S.League, launched in 1996, currently comprises nine clubs, including two foreign teams.

The Singapore Slingers, formerly the Hunter Pirates in the Australian National Basketball League, is one of the inaugural teams in the ASEAN Basketball League which was founded in October 2009.

Singapore began hosting a round of the Formula One World Championship, the Singapore Grand Prix, in 2008. The race takes place on the Marina Bay Street Circuit and was the inaugural F1 night race, and the first F1 street race in Asia. Singapore will remain on the F1 calendar until at least 2017, after race organisers signed a contract extension with Formula One Management on the eve of the 2012 event.

Kranji Racecourse is run by the Singapore Turf Club and hosts several meetings per week, including international races—notably the Singapore Airlines International Cup.

Singapore also hosted the inaugural 2010 Summer Youth Olympics.

Singapore is home to the biggest Mixed Martial Arts promotion in Asia, ONE Championship. Notable fighters on the promotions roster include Ben Askren, Roger Gracie, Brandon Vera and Shinya Aoki.

Media

Companies linked to the government control much of the domestic media in Singapore. MediaCorp operates most free-to-air television channels and free-to-air radio stations in Singapore. There are a total of seven free-to-air TV channels offered by Mediacorp. Starhub Cable Vision (SCV) also offers cable television with channels from all around the world, and Singtel’s Mio TV provides an IPTV service. Singapore Press Holdings, a body with close links to the government, controls most of the newspaper industry in Singapore.

Singapore’s media industry has sometimes been criticised for being overly regulated and lacking in freedom by human rights groups such as Freedom House. Self-censorship among journalists is said to be common. In 2014, Singapore dipped to its lowest ranking ever (153rd of 180 nations) on the Press Freedom Index published by the French Reporters Without Borders. The Media Development Authority regulates Singaporean media, claiming to balance the demand for choice and protection against offensive and harmful material.

Private ownership of TV satellite dishes is banned. In 2016, there were an estimated 4.7 million internet users in Singapore, representing 82.5% of the population. The Singapore government does not engage in widespread censoring of the internet, but it maintains a list of one hundred websites—mostly pornographic—that it blocks as a “symbolic statement of the Singaporean community’s stand on harmful and undesirable content on the Internet”. As the block covers only home internet access, users may still visit the blocked websites from their office computers.

London

 

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 DAMN! I LOVE UNITED KINGDOM
From upper left: City of London, Tower Bridge and London Eye, Palace of Westminster
Nickname(s): the (big) smoke, the Great Wen

London region in the United Kingdom

Coordinates: 51°30′26″N 0°7′39″WCoordinates: 51°30′26″N 0°7′39″W
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
County Greater London
Districts City and 32 boroughs
Settled by Romans as Londinium, c. 43 AD
Government
 • Regional authority Greater London Authority
 • Regional assembly London Assembly
 • Mayor Boris Johnson
 • UK Parliament 74 constituencies
 • London Assembly
• European Parliament
14 constituencies
London constituency
Area
 • City 606.95 sq mi (1,572.00 km2)
 • Urban 671.0 sq mi (1,737.9 km2)
 • Metro 3,236.31 sq mi (8,382.00 km2)
Elevation 79 ft (24 m)
Population (2012)
 • City 8,308,369
 • Density 13,690/sq mi (5,285/km2)
 • Urban 9,787,426
 • Urban zone 11,905,500
 • Metro 15,010,295
Demonym Londoner
Time zone GMT (UTC±0)
 • Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
Postcode areas E, EC, N, NW, SE, SW, W, WC, BR, CM, CR, DA, EN, HA, IG, KT, RM, SM, TN, TW, UB, WD
Area code(s) 020, 01322, 01689, 01708, 01737, 01895, 01923, 01959, 01992
Website londongovuk

London /ˈlʌndən/ is the capital city of England and the United Kingdom. With an estimated 8,308,369 residents in 2012, London is the most populous region, urban zone and metropolitan area in the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its founding by the Romans, who named it Londinium. London’s ancient core, the City of London, largely retains its 1.12-square-mile (2.9 km2) mediaeval boundaries. With its population of 7,375 in 2011, it is the smallest city in England. Since at least the 19th century, the term London has also referred to the metropolis developed around this core. The bulk of this conurbation forms the London region and the Greater London administrative area, governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

aerial photograph by www.webbaviation.co.uk

London is a leading global city, with strengths in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism and transport all contributing to its prominence. It is one of the world’s leading financial centres and has the fifth- or sixth-largest metropolitan area GDP in the world depending on measurement. London is a world cultural capital. It is the world’s most-visited city as measured by international arrivals and has the world’s largest city airport system measured by passenger traffic. London’s 43 universities form the largest concentration of higher education in Europe. In 2012, London became the first city to host the modern Summer Olympic Games three times.

South-East-London-Bridge-Aerial-1

London has a diverse range of peoples and cultures, and more than 300 languages are spoken within its boundaries. London had an official population of 8,174,100, making it the most populous municipality in the European Union, and accounting for 12.5% of the UK population. The Greater London Urban Area is the second-largest in the EU with a population of 9,787,426 according to the 2011 census, while the London metropolitan area is the largest in the EU with a total population of 15,010,295, the Greater London Authority puts the population of London metropolitan region at 21 million. London had the largest population of any city in the world from around 1831 to 1925.

River_Thames_and_Lambeth_Bridge-7July2007 (2)

London contains four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London; Kew Gardens; the site comprising the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret’s Church; and the historic settlement of Greenwich (in which the Royal Observatory marks the Prime Meridian, 0° longitude, and GMT). Other famous landmarks include Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, and The Shard. London is home to numerous museums, galleries, libraries, sporting events and other cultural institutions, including the British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, British Library and 40 West End theatres. The London Underground is the oldest underground railway network in the world.

river-thames-and-city-of-london-jason-hawkes

History


Toponymy

800px-London_Thames_Sunset_panorama_-_Feb_2008

The etymology of London is uncertain. It is an ancient name and can be found in sources from the 2nd century. It is recorded c. 121 as Londinium, which points to Romano-British origin. The earliest attempted explanation, now disregarded, is attributed to Geoffrey of Monmouth in Historia Regum Britanniae. This had it that the name originated from a supposed King Lud, who had allegedly taken over the city and named it Kaerlud.

From 1898, it was commonly accepted that the name was of Celtic origin and meant place belonging to a man called *Londinos; this explanation has since been rejected. Richard Coates put forward an explanation in 1998 that it is derived from the pre-Celtic Old European *(p)lowonida, meaning ‘river too wide to ford’, and suggested that this was a name given to the part of the River Thames which flows through London; from this, the settlement gained the Celtic form of its name, *Lowonidonjon; this requires quite a serious amendment however. The ultimate difficulty lies in reconciling the Latin form Londinium with the modern Welsh Llundain, which should demand a form *(h)lōndinion (as opposed to *londīnion), from earlier *loundiniom. The possibility cannot be ruled out that the Welsh name was borrowed back in from English at a later date, and thus cannot be used as a basis from which to reconstruct the original name.

Until 1889, the name “London” officially only applied to the City of London but since then it has also referred to the County of London and now Greater London.


Prehistory and Antiquity

769px-Map_of_London,_1300.svg
In 1300 the City was still confined within the Roman walls.

Two recent discoveries indicate that London could be much older than previously thought. In 1999, the remains of a Bronze Age bridge were found on the foreshore north of Vauxhall Bridge. This bridge either crossed the Thames, or went to a (lost) island in the river. Dendrology dated the timbers to 1500BC. In 2010 the foundations of a large timber structure, dated to 4500BC, were found on the Thames foreshore, south of Vauxhall Bridge. The function of the mesolithic structure is not known. Both structures are on South Bank, at a natural crossing point where the River Effra flows into the River Thames.

Although there is evidence of scattered Brythonic settlements in the area, the first major settlement was founded by the Romans in 43 AD. This lasted for just seventeen years and around 61, the Iceni tribe led by Queen Boudica stormed it, burning it to the ground. The next, heavily planned, incarnation of Londinium prospered and superseded Colchester as the capital of the Roman province of Britannia in 100. At its height during the 2nd century, Roman London had a population of around 60,000.


Anglo-Saxon London

The Lancastrian siege of London in 1471 is attacked by a Yorkist sally.
The Lancastrian siege of London in 1471 is attacked by a Yorkist sally.

With the collapse of Roman rule in the early 5th century, London ceased to be a capital and the walled city of Londinium was effectively abandoned, although Roman civilisation hung on in the St Martin-in-the-Fields area until around 450. From around 500, an Anglo-Saxon settlement known as Lundenwic developed in the same area, slightly to the west of the old Roman city. By about 680, it had revived sufficiently to become a major port, although there is little evidence of large-scale production of goods. From the 820s the town declined because of repeated Viking attacks, and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recorded that it was “refounded” by Alfred the Great in 886. Archaeological research shows that this involved abandonment of Lundenwic and a revival of life and trade within the old Roman walls. London then grew slowly until about 950, after which activity increased dramatically.

By the 11th century, London was beyond all comparison the largest town in England. Westminster Abbey, rebuilt in the Romanesque style by King Edward the Confessor, was one of the grandest churches in Europe. Winchester had previously been the capital of Anglo-Saxon England, but from this time on, London became the main forum for foreign traders and the base for defence in time of war. In the view of Frank Stenton: “It had the resources, and it was rapidly developing the dignity and the political self-consciousness appropriate to a national capital.”


Middle Ages

614px-Westminster_Abbey_by_Canaletto,_1749
Westminster Abbey, as seen in this painting (Canaletto, 1749), is a World Heritage Site and one of London’s oldest and most important buildings

Following his victory in the Battle of Hastings, William, Duke of Normandy, was crowned King of England in the newly finished Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066. William constructed the Tower of London, the first of the many Norman castles in England to be rebuilt in stone, in the southeastern corner of the city, to intimidate the native inhabitants. In 1097, William II began the building of Westminster Hall, close by the abbey of the same name. The hall became the basis of a new Palace of Westminster.

The Great Fire of London destroyed many parts of the city in 1666.

The Great Fire of London destroyed many parts of the city in 1666.

During the 12th century, the institutions of central government, which had hitherto accompanied the royal English court as it moved around the country, grew in size and sophistication and became increasingly fixed in one place. In most cases this was Westminster, although the royal treasury, having been moved from Winchester, came to rest in the Tower.

While the City of Westminster developed into a true capital in governmental terms, its distinct neighbour, the City of London, remained England’s largest city and principal commercial centre, and it flourished under its own unique administration, the Corporation of London. In 1100, its population was around 18,000; by 1300 it had grown to nearly 100,000.

Disaster struck during the Black Death in the mid-14th century, when London lost nearly a third of its population.London was the focus of the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381.


Early Modern

During the Tudor period the Reformation produced a gradual shift to Protestantism, with much of London passing from church to private ownership. The traffic in woollen cloths shipped undyed and undressed from London to the nearby shores of the Low Countries, for use by well-to-do wearers chiefly in the interior of the continent. But the tentacles of English maritime enterprise hardly extended beyond the seas of north-west Europe. The commercial route to Italy and the Mediterranean Sea normally lay through Antwerp and over the Alps; any ships passing through the Strait of Gibraltar to or from England were likely to be Italian or Ragusan. Upon the re-opening of the Netherlands to English shipping in January 1565 there at once ensued a strong outburst of commercial activity. The Royal Exchange was founded. Mercantilism grew and monopoly trading companies such as the East India Company were established, with trade expanding to the New World. London became the principal North Sea port, with migrants arriving from England and abroad. The population rose from an estimated 50,000 in 1530 to about 225,000 in 1605.

London in 1806

London in 1806

In the 16th century William Shakespeare and his contemporaries lived in London at a time of hostility to the development of the theatre. By the end of the Tudor period in 1603, London was still very compact. There was an assassination attempt on James I in Westminster, through the Gunpowder Plot on 5 November 1605. London was plagued by disease in the early 17th century, culminating in the Great Plague of 1665–1666, which killed up to 100,000 people, or a fifth of the population.

The Great Fire of London broke out in 1666 in Pudding Lane in the city and quickly swept through the wooden buildings. Rebuilding took over ten years and was supervised by Robert Hooke as Surveyor of London. In 1708 Christopher Wren‘s masterpiece, St Paul’s Cathedral was completed. During the Georgian era new districts such as Mayfair were formed in the west; and new bridges over the Thames encouraged development in South London. In the east, the Port of London expanded downstream.

In 1762, George III acquired Buckingham House and it was enlarged over the next 75 years. During the 18th century, London was dogged by crime and the Bow Street Runners were established in 1750 as a professional police force. In total, more than 200 offences were punishable by death, and women and children were hanged for petty theft. Over 74 per cent of children born in London died before they were five. The coffeehouse became a popular place to debate ideas, with growing literacy and the development of the printing press making news widely available; and Fleet Street became the centre of the British press.

According to Samuel Johnson:

You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.

Samuel Johnson, 1777

Late Modern and Contemporary

800px-British_recruits_August_1914_Q53234

London was the world’s largest city from about 1831 to 1925. London’s overcrowded conditions led to cholera epidemics, claiming 14,000 lives in 1848, and 6,000 in 1866. Rising traffic congestion led to the creation of the world’s first local urban rail network. The Metropolitan Board of Works oversaw infrastructure expansion in the capital and some of the surrounding counties; it was abolished in 1889 when the London County Council was created out of those areas of the counties surrounding the capital. London was bombed by the Germans during the First World War while during the Second World War the Blitz and other bombing by the German Luftwaffe killed over 30,000 Londoners and destroyed large tracts of housing and other buildings across the city. Immediately after the war, the 1948 Summer Olympics were held at the original Wembley Stadium, at a time when London had barely recovered from the war.

800px-LondonBombedWWII_full

In 1951, the Festival of Britain was held on the South Bank. The Great Smog of 1952 led to the Clean Air Act 1956, which ended the “pea soup fogs” for which London had been notorious. From the 1940s onwards, London became home to a large number of immigrants, largely from Commonwealth countries such as Jamaica, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, making London one of the most diverse cities in Europe.

Primarily starting in the mid-1960s, London became a centre for the worldwide youth culture, exemplified by the Swinging London subculture associated with the King’s Road, Chelsea and Carnaby Street. The role of trendsetter was revived during the punk era. In 1965 London’s political boundaries were expanded to take into account the growth of the urban area and a new Greater London Council was created. During The Troubles in Northern Ireland, London was subjected to bombing attacks by the Provisional IRA. Racial inequality was highlighted by the 1981 Brixton riot. Greater London’s population declined steadily in the decades after the Second World War, from an estimated peak of 8.6 million in 1939 to around 6.8 million in the 1980s. The principal ports for London moved downstream to Felixstowe and Tilbury, with the London Docklands area becoming a focus for regeneration as the Canary Wharf development. This was borne out of London’s ever-increasing role as a major international financial centre during the 1980s.

The Thames Barrier was completed in the 1980s to protect London against tidal surges from the North Sea. The Greater London Council was abolished in 1986, which left London as the only large metropolis in the world without a central administration. In 2000, London-wide government was restored, with the creation of the Greater London Authority. To celebrate the start of the 21st century, the Millennium Dome, London Eye and Millennium Bridge were constructed. On 6 July 2005 London was awarded the 2012 Summer Olympics, making London the first city to stage the Olympic Games three times.

Government


Local Government

London
 CityHallLondon2007
This article is part of the series: Politics and government of London
  • Sovereign
    • Elizabeth II
  • Greater London Authority
    • Mayor
      • Boris Johnson
    • Deputy
      • Victoria Borwick
  • London Assembly
    • Mayoral elections
    • Constituencies
  • City of London Corporation
    • Lord Mayor
    • Sheriff
    • Wards
    • Court of Aldermen
  • Parliament of the United Kingdom
    • 1998 referendum
    • GLA Act 1999
    • GLA Act 2007
    • Elections
    • Constituencies
  • European Parliament
    • Elections
    • European Parliament constituency
    • Committee of the Regions
    • Subsidiarity
  • Boroughs
  • Middle Temple
  • Inner Temple

The administration of London is formed of two tiers—a city-wide, strategic tier and a local tier. City-wide administration is coordinated by the Greater London Authority (GLA), while local administration is carried out by 33 smaller authorities. The GLA consists of two elected components; the Mayor of London, who has executive powers, and the London Assembly, who scrutinise the mayor’s decisions and can accept or reject his budget proposals each year. The headquarters of the GLA is City Hall, Southwark; the mayor is Boris Johnson. The mayor’s statutory planning strategy is published as the London Plan, which was most recently revised in 2011. The local authorities are the councils of the 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation. They are responsible for most local services, such as local planning, schools, social services, local roads and refuse collection. Certain functions, such as waste management, are provided through joint arrangements. In 2009–2010 the combined revenue expenditure by London councils and the GLA amounted to just over £22 billion (£14.7 billion for the boroughs and £7.4 billion for the GLA)

Policing in Greater London, with the exception of the City of London, is provided by the Metropolitan Police Force, overseen by the Mayor through the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC). The City of London has its own police force – the City of London Police. The British Transport Police are responsible for police services on National Rail and London Underground services.

The London Fire Brigade is the statutory fire and rescue service for Greater London. It is run by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and is the third-largest fire service in the world. National Health Service ambulance services are provided by the London Ambulance Service (LAS) NHS Trust, the largest free at the point of use emergency ambulance service in the world. The London Air Ambulance charity operates in conjunction with the LAS where required. Her Majesty’s Coastguard and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution operate on the River Thames.

National Government

London is the seat of the Government of the United Kingdom, which is located around the Palace of Westminster. Many government departments are located close to Parliament, particularly along Whitehall, including the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street. The British Parliament is often referred to as the “Mother of Parliaments” (although this sobriquet was first applied to England itself by John Bright) because it has been the model for most other parliamentary systems, and its Acts have created many other parliaments.

Geography


Scope

Satellite view of inner London

Satellite view of inner London

Greater London is the top-level administrative subdivision covering London. The small, ancient City of London at its core once contained the whole settlement, but as the urban area grew the City Corporation resisted attempts to amalgamate it with its suburbs, causing “London” to be defined in a number ways for different purposes; and the situation was once open to legal debate. Forty per cent of Greater London is covered by the London post town, within which ‘LONDON’ forms part of postal addresses.

The London telephone area code (020) covers a larger area, similar in size to Greater London, although some outer districts are omitted and some places just outside are included. The area within the orbital M25 motorway is normally what is referred to as ‘London’. and the Greater London boundary has been aligned to it in places.

Outward urban expansion is now prevented by the Metropolitan Green Belt, although the built-up area extends beyond the boundary in places, resulting in a separately defined Greater London Urban Area. Beyond this is the vast London commuter belt. Greater London is split for some purposes into Inner London and Outer London. The city is split by the River Thames into North and South, with an informal central London area in its interior. The coordinates of the nominal centre of London, traditionally considered to be the original Eleanor Cross at Charing Cross near the junction of Trafalgar Square and Whitehall, are approximately 51°30′26″N 00°07′39″W.

Status


Within London, both the City of London and the City of Westminster have city status and both the City of London and the remainder of Greater London are the ceremonial counties. The area of Greater London has incorporated areas that were once part of the historic counties of Middlesex, Kent, Surrey, Essex and Hertfordshire. London’s status as the capital of England, and later the United Kingdom, has never been granted or confirmed officially—by statute or in written form.

Its position was formed through constitutional convention, making its status as de facto capital a part of the UK’s unwritten constitution. The capital of England was moved to London from Winchester as the Palace of Westminster developed in the 12th and 13th centuries to become the permanent location of the royal court, and thus the political capital of the nation. More recently, Greater London has been defined as a region of England and in this context known as London.

Topography


Open_street_map_central_london.svg

Greater London encompasses a total area of 1,583 square kilometres (611 sq mi), an area which had a population of 7,172,036 in 2001 and a population density of 4,542 inhabitants per square kilometre (11,760 /sq mi). The extended area known as the London Metropolitan Region or the London Metropolitan Agglomeration, comprises a total area of 8,382 square kilometres (3,236 sq mi) has a population of 13,709,000 and a population density of 1,510 inhabitants per square kilometre (3,900 /sq mi). Modern London stands on the Thames, its primary geographical feature, a navigable river which crosses the city from the south-west to the east. The Thames Valley is a floodplain surrounded by gently rolling hills including Parliament Hill, Addington Hills, and Primrose Hill. The Thames was once a much broader, shallower river with extensive marshlands; at high tide, its shores reached five times their present width.

Primrose Hill Panorama, London - April 2011

Primrose Hill Panorama, London – April 2011

Since the Victorian era the Thames has been extensively embanked, and many of its London tributaries now flow underground. The Thames is a tidal river, and London is vulnerable to flooding. The threat has increased over time because of a slow but continuous rise in high water level by the slow ’tilting’ of Britain (up in the north and down in the south) caused by post-glacial rebound.

In 1974, a decade of work began on the construction of the Thames Barrier across the Thames at Woolwich to deal with this threat. While the barrier is expected to function as designed until roughly 2070, concepts for its future enlargement or redesign are already being discussed.

Climate


London has a temperate oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb ), similar to much of southern Britain. Despite its reputation as being a rainy city, London receives less precipitation (with 601 mm (24 in) in a year), than Rome (at 834 mm (33 in)), Bordeaux (at 923 mm (36 in)), Toulouse (at 668 mm (26 in)), and Naples (at 1,006 mm (40 in) per year). Winters are generally chilly to cold with frost usually occurring in the suburbs on average twice a week from November to March. Snow usually occurs about four or five times a year mostly from December to February. Snowfall during March and April is rare but does occur every two or three years. Winter temperatures seldom fall below −4 °C (24.8 °F) or rise above 14 °C (57.2 °F). During the winter of 2010, London experienced its lowest temperature on record (−14 °C (6.8 °F)) in Northolt and the heaviest snow seen for almost two decades, a huge strain on the city’s transport infrastructure. Temperature extremes for all sites in the London area range from 38.1 °C (100.6 °F) at Kew during August 2003, (which has been proposed to be the UK’s highest ‘accurate’ temperature) down to −16.1 °C (3.0 °F) at Northolt during January 1962. Temperatures of below −20 °C (−4.0 °F) have been noted prior to the 20th century, but the accuracy cannot be validated.

Summers are generally warm and sometimes hot, the heat being boosted by the urban heat island effect making the Centre of London at times 5 °C (9 °F) warmer than the suburbs and outskirts. London’s average July high is 24 °C (75.2 °F). During the 2003 European heat wave there were 14 consecutive days above 30 °C (86.0 °F) and 2 consecutive days where temperatures soared up to 38 °C (100.4 °F), leading to hundreds of heat related deaths. Rain generally occurs on around 2 out of 10 summer days. Spring and Autumn are mixed seasons and can be pleasant. On 1 October 2011, the air temperature attained 30 °C (86.0 °F) and in April 2011 it reached 28 °C (82.4 °F). However in recent years both of these months have also had snowfall. Temperature extremes range from −10 °C (14.0 °F) to 37.9 °C (100.2 °F).

[hide]Climate data for London (Heathrow airport 1981-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8.1
(46.6)
8.4
(47.1)
11.3
(52.3)
14.2
(57.6)
17.9
(64.2)
21.0
(69.8)
23.5
(74.3)
23.2
(73.8)
19.9
(67.8)
15.5
(59.9)
11.1
(52)
8.3
(46.9)
15.2
(59.4)
Average low °C (°F) 2.3
(36.1)
2.1
(35.8)
3.9
(39)
5.5
(41.9)
8.7
(47.7)
11.7
(53.1)
13.9
(57)
13.7
(56.7)
11.4
(52.5)
8.4
(47.1)
4.9
(40.8)
2.7
(36.9)
7.4
(45.4)
Precipitation mm (inches) 55.2
(2.173)
40.9
(1.61)
41.6
(1.638)
43.7
(1.72)
49.4
(1.945)
45.1
(1.776)
44.5
(1.752)
49.5
(1.949)
49.1
(1.933)
68.5
(2.697)
59.0
(2.323)
55.2
(2.173)
601.7
(23.689)
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 11 9 9 9 8 8 8 8 8 11 10 10 109
Mean monthly sunshine hours 61.5 77.9 114.6 168.7 198.5 204.3 212.0 204.7 149.3 116.5 72.6 52.0 1,632.6
Source:  Met Office

Districts


The City of London and the 32 London boroughs

London’s vast urban area is often described using a set of district names, such as Bloomsbury, Mayfair, Wembley and Whitechapel. These are either informal designations, reflect the names of villages that have been absorbed by sprawl, or are superseded administrative units such as parishes or former boroughs.

Such names have remained in use through tradition, each referring to a local area with its own distinctive character, but without official boundaries. Since 1965 Greater London has been divided into 32 London boroughs in addition to the ancient City of London. The City of London is the main financial district, and Canary Wharf has recently developed into a new financial and commercial hub in the Docklands to the east.

The West End is London’s main entertainment and shopping district, attracting tourists. West London includes expensive residential areas where properties can sell for tens of millions of pounds. The average price for properties in Kensington and Chelsea is £894,000 with similar average outlay in most of central London.

The East End is the area closest to the original Port of London, known for its high immigrant population, as well as for being one of the poorest areas in London. The surrounding East London area saw much of London’s early industrial development; now, brownfield sites throughout the area are being redeveloped as part of the Thames Gateway including the London Riverside and Lower Lea Valley, which was developed into the Olympic Park for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

Architecture


The Tower, with Tower Bridge built 800 years later on the River Thames

The Tower, with Tower Bridge built 800 years later on the River Thames

London’s buildings are too diverse to be characterised by any particular architectural style, partly because of their varying ages. Many grand houses and public buildings, such as the National Gallery, are constructed from Portland stone. Some areas of the city, particularly those just west of the centre, are characterised by white stucco or whitewashed buildings. Few structures in central London pre-date the Great Fire of 1666, these being a few trace Roman remains, the Tower of London and a few scattered Tudor survivors in the City. Further out is, for example, the Tudor period Hampton Court Palace, England’s oldest surviving Tudor palace, built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey c. 1515. Wren’s late 17th-century churches and the financial institutions of the 18th and 19th centuries such as the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England, to the early 20th century Old Bailey and the 1960s Barbican Estate form part of the varied architectural heritage.

Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the British monarch

Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the British monarch

The disused, but soon to be rejuvenated,1939 Battersea Power Station by the river in the south-west is a local landmark, while some railway termini are excellent examples of Victorian architecture, most notably St. Pancras and Paddington. The density of London varies, with high employment density in the central area, high residential densities in inner London and lower densities in Outer London.

30 St Mary Axe, also known as the Gherkin, towers over St Andrew Undershaft

30 St Mary Axe, also known as the Gherkin, towers over St Andrew Undershaft

The Monument in the City of London provides views of the surrounding area while commemorating the Great Fire of London, which originated nearby. Marble Arch and Wellington Arch, at the north and south ends of Park Lane respectively, have royal connections, as do the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall in Kensington. Nelson’s Column is a nationally recognised monument in Trafalgar Square, one of the focal points of the city centre. Older buildings are mainly brick built, most commonly the yellow London stock brick or a warm orange-red variety, often decorated with carvings and white plaster mouldings.

Three icons: Big Ben clock tower with a red telephone box and London double-decker bus in front

Three icons: Big Ben clock tower with a red telephone box and London double-decker bus in front

In the dense areas, most of the concentration is achieved with medium- and high-rise buildings. London’s skyscrapers such as 30 St Mary Axe, Tower 42, the Broadgate Tower and One Canada Square are usually found in the two financial districts, the City of London and Canary Wharf. High-rise development is restricted at certain sites if it would obstruct protected views of St Paul’s Cathedral and other historic buildings. Nevertheless there are a number of very tall skyscrapers to be found in central London (see Tall buildings in London), including the 72-storey Shard London Bridge, the tallest building in the European Union.

Other notable modern buildings include City Hall in Southwark with its distinctive oval shape, and the British Library in Somers Town/Kings Cross. What was formerly the Millennium Dome, located by the Thames to the east of Canary Wharf, is now used as an entertainment venue called The O2 Arena.


Parks and Pardens

Aerial view of Hyde Park
Aerial view of Hyde Park

The largest parks in the central area of London are three of the Royal Parks, namely Hyde Park and its neighbour Kensington Gardens at the western edge of central London, and Regent’s Park on the northern edge. Regent’s 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 (the largest) to the south-west, as well as Victoria Park, 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 320-hectare (790-acre) 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.

Demography


2011 United Kingdom CensusWith increasing industrialisation, London’s population grew rapidly throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, and it was for some time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the most populous city in the world until overtaken by New York in 1925. Its population peaked at 8,615,245 in 1939 immediately before the outbreak of the Second World War, but had declined to 7,192,091 at the 2001 Census. However, the population then grew by just over a million between the 2001 and 2011 Censuses, to reach 8,173,941 in the latter enumeration.

However, London’s continuous urban area extends beyond the borders of Greater London and was home to 9,787,426 people in 2011, while its wider metropolitan area has a population of between 12 and 14 million depending on the definition used. According to Eurostat, London is the most populous city and metropolitan area of the European Union and the second most populous in Europe (or third if Istanbul is included). During the period 1991–2001 a net 726,000 immigrants arrived in London.

The region covers an area of 1,579 square kilometres (610 sq mi). The population density is 5,177 inhabitants per square kilometre (13,410 /sq mi), more than ten times that of any other British region. In terms of population, London is the 19th largest city and the 18th largest metropolitan region in the world. It is also ranked 4th in the world in number of billionaires (United States Dollars) residing in the city. London ranks as one of the most expensive cities in the world, alongside Tokyo and Moscow.


Ethnic Groups

According to the Office for National Statistics, based on the 2011 Census estimates,

  • 59.8% of the 8,173,941 inhabitants of London were White, with
  • 44.9% White British,
  • 2.2% White Irish,
  • 0.1% gypsy/Irish traveler and
  • 12.1% classified as Other White.
  • 20.9% of Londoners are of Asian and mixed-Asian descent.
  • 19.7% of Londoners are of full Asian descent, with those of mixed-Asian heritage comprising 1.2 of the population.
  • Indians account for 6.6% of the population, followed by
  • Pakistanis and Bangladeshis at 2.7% each.
  • Chinese peoples account for 1.5% of the population, with
  • Arabs comprising 1.3%.
  • A further 4.9% of Londoners are classified as “Other Asian”.

15.6% of London’s population are of Black and mixed-Black descent. 13.3% of Londoners are of full Black descent, with those of mixed-Black heritage comprising 2.3% of the population. Black Africans account for 7.0% of London’s population, with 4.2% as Black Caribbean and 2.1% as “Other Black”. 5% of Londoners are of mixed race.

Across London, Black and Asian children outnumber White British children by about six to four in state schools. However, White children represented 62% of London’s 1,498,700 population aged 0 to 15 according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics from 2009, with 55.7% of the population aged 0 to 15 being White British, 0.7% being White Irish and 5.6% being from other EU White backgrounds. In January 2005, a survey of London’s ethnic and religious diversity claimed that there were more than 300 languages spoken and more than 50 non-indigenous communities which have a population of more than 10,000 in London. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that, in 2010, London’s foreign-born population was 2,650,000 (33%), up from 1,630,000 in 1997.

The 2011 census showed that 36.7% of Greater London’s population were born outside the UK. The table to the right shows the 20 most common foreign countries of birth of London residents in 2011, the date of the last published UK Census. A portion of the German-born population are likely to be British nationals born to parents serving in the British Armed Forces in Germany. Estimates produced by the Office for National Statistics indicate that the five largest foreign-born groups living in London in the period July 2009 to June 2010 were those born in India, Poland, the Republic of Ireland, Bangladesh and Nigeria.

Religion


St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral

According to the 2011 Census, the largest religious groupings are Christians (48.4 per cent), followed by those of no religion (20.7 per cent), Muslims (12.4 per cent), no response (8.5 per cent), Hindus (5.0 per cent), Jews (1.8 per cent), Sikhs (1.5 per cent), Buddhists (1.0 per cent) and other (0.6 per cent).

Religion in LondonLondon has traditionally been Christian, and has a large number of churches, particularly in the City of London. The well-known St Paul’s Cathedral in the City and Southwark Cathedral south of the river are Anglican administrative centres, while the Archbishop of Canterbury, principal bishop of the Church of England and worldwide Anglican Communion, has his main residence at Lambeth Palace in the London Borough of Lambeth.

Important national and royal ceremonies are shared between St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey. The Abbey is not to be confused with nearby Westminster Cathedral, which is the largest Roman Catholic cathedral in England and Wales. Despite the prevalence of Anglican churches, observance is very low within the Anglican denomination. Church attendance continues on a long, slow, steady decline, according to Church of England statistics.

London is also home to sizeable Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and Jewish communities. Many Muslims live in Tower Hamlets and Newham; the most important Muslim edifice is London Central Mosque on the edge of Regent’s Park. Following the oil boom, increasing numbers of wealthy Middle-Eastern Muslims have based themselves around Mayfair and Knightsbridge in west London. London is home to the largest mosque in western Europe, the Baitul Futuh Mosque, of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. London’s large Hindu community is found in the north-western boroughs of Harrow and Brent, the latter of which is home to Europe’s largest Hindu temple, Neasden Temple. London is also home to 42 Hindu temples. Sikh communities are located in East and West London, which is also home to the largest Sikh temple in the world outside India.

The majority of British Jews live in London, with significant Jewish communities in Stamford Hill, Stanmore, Golders Green, Finchley, Hampstead, Hendon and Edgware in North London. Bevis Marks Synagogue in the City of London is affiliated to London’s historic Sephardic Jewish community. It is the only synagogue in Europe which has held regular services continuously for over 300 years. Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue has the largest membership of any single Orthodox synagogue in the whole of Europe, overtaking Ilford synagogue (also in London) in 1998. The community set up the London Jewish Forum in 2006 in response to the growing significance of devolved London Government.

Economy


The City of London is the largest financial centre in the world

The City of London is the largest financial centre in the world

London generates approximately 20 per cent of the UK’s GDP (or $446 billion in 2005); while the economy of the London metropolitan area—the largest in Europe—generates approximately 30 per cent of the UK’s GDP (or an estimated $669 billion in 2005). London is one of the pre-eminent financial centres of the world and vies with New York City as the most important location for international finance.

Canary Wharf is a major business and financial centre and is home to some of the UK's tallest buildings

Canary Wharf is a major business and financial centre and is home to some of the UK’s tallest buildings

London’s largest industry is finance, and its financial exports make it a large contributor to the UK’s balance of payments. Around 325,000 people were employed in financial services in London until mid-2007. London has over 480 overseas banks, more than any other city in the world. Over 85% (3.2 million) of the employed population of greater London works in the services industries. Because of its prominent global role, London’s economy has been affected by the Late-2000s financial crisis. The City of London estimates that 70,000 jobs in finance will be cut within a year. The City of London is home to the Bank of England, London Stock Exchange, and Lloyd’s of London insurance market.

Over half of the UK’s top 100 listed companies (the FTSE 100) and over 100 of Europe’s 500 largest companies have their headquarters in central London. Over 70 per cent of the FTSE 100 are located within London’s metropolitan area, and 75 per cent of Fortune 500 companies have offices in London.

Along with professional services, media companies are concentrated in London and the media distribution industry is London’s second most competitive sector. The BBC is a significant employer, while other broadcasters also have headquarters around the City. Many national newspapers are edited in London. London is a major retail centre and in 2010 had the highest non-food retail sales of any city in the world, with a total spend of around £64.2 billion. The Port of London is the second-largest in the United Kingdom, handling 45 million tonnes of cargo each year.

London has five major business districts: the City, Westminster, Canary Wharf, Camden & Islington and Lambeth & Southwark. One way to get an idea of their relative importance is to look at relative amounts of office space: Greater London had 27 million m2 of office space in 2001, and the City contains the most space, with 8 million m2 of office space. London has some of the highest real estate prices in the world.

Tourism


London is a popular centre for tourism, one of its prime industries, employing the equivalent of 350,000 full-time workers in 2003, while annual expenditure by tourists is around £15 billion. London attracts over 14 million international visitors per year, making it Europe’s most visited city. London attracts 27 million overnight-stay visitors every year. In 2010 the ten most-visited attractions in London were:

  1. British Museum
  2. Tate Modern
  3. National Gallery
  4. Natural History Museum
  5. London Eye
  6. Science Museum
  7. Victoria and Albert Museum
  8. Madame Tussauds
  9. National Maritime Museum
  10. Tower of London

Transport


A black London taxi, also known as a hackney carriage.

A black London taxi, also known as a hackney carriage.

Transport is one of the four main areas of policy administered by the Mayor of London, however the mayor’s financial control does not extend to the longer distance rail network that enters London. In 2007 he assumed responsibility for some local lines, which now form the London Overground network, adding to the existing responsibility for the London Underground, trams and buses. The public transport network is administered by Transport for London (TfL) and is one of the most extensive in the world. Cycling is an increasingly popular way to get around London. The London Cycling Campaign lobbies for better provision.

The lines that formed the London Underground, as well as trams and buses, became part of an integrated transport system in 1933 when the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) or London Transport was created. Transport for London (TfL), is now the statutory corporation responsible for most aspects of the transport system in Greater London, and is run by a board and a commissioner appointed by the Mayor of London.

Air

Heathrow (Terminal 5 pictured) is the busiest airport in the world for international traffic

Heathrow (Terminal 5 pictured) is the busiest airport in the world for international traffic

London is a major international air transport hub with the largest city airspace in the world. Eight airports use the word London in their name, but most traffic passes through six of these. London Heathrow Airport, in Hillingdon, West London, 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. There were plans for a third runway and a sixth terminal however these were cancelled by the Coalition Government on 12 May 2010. In September 2011 a personal rapid transit system was opened at Heathrow to connect to a nearby car park.

Similar traffic, with the addition of some low-cost short-haul flights, is also handled at Gatwick Airport, located south of London in West Sussex.

Stansted Airport, situated north east of London in Essex, is the main UK hub for Ryanair and Luton Airport to the north of London in Bedfordshire, caters 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.

London Southend Airport, east of London in Essex, is a smaller, regional airport that mainly caters for low-cost short-haul flights. It recently went through a large redevelopment project including a brand new terminal, extended runway and a new railway station offering fast links into the capital. EasyJet have a base at the airport.

Buses and Trams

The red double-decker bus is an iconic symbol of London
The red double-decker bus is an iconic symbol of London

London’s bus network is one of the largest in the world, running 24 hours a day, with 8,000 buses, 700 bus routes, and over 6 million passenger journeys made every weekday. In 2003, the network had an estimated 1.5 billion commuter trips per annum, more than the Underground. Around £850 million is taken in revenue each year. 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 distinctive red double-decker buses are internationally recognised, and are a trademark of London transport along with black cabs and the Tube.

London has a modern tram network, known as Tramlink, based in Croydon in South London. The network has 39 stops, three routes and carried 26.5 million people in 2008. Since June 2008 Transport for London has completely owned Tramlink and plans to spend £54m by 2015 on maintenance, renewals, upgrades and capacity enhancements. Since April 2009 all trams have been refurbished.

Cycling

Cycling in London has enjoyed a renaissance since the turn of the Millennium. Cyclists enjoy a cheaper, and often quicker, way around town than those using public transport or cars, and the launch of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme in July 2010 has been successful and generally well received.

Port

From being the largest port in the world, the Port of London is now only the second-largest in the United Kingdom, handling 45 million tonnes of cargo each year. Most of this actually passes through the Port of Tilbury, outside the boundary of Greater London.

Rail

The London Underground is the world's oldest and second-longest rapid transit system

The London Underground is the world’s oldest and second-longest rapid transit system

The London Underground — all of which is now commonly referred to as the Tube, though originally this designation referred only to the deep-level lines, as distinct from the sub-surface lines — is the oldest, and second longest metro system in the world, dating from 1863. The system serves 270 stations and was formed from several private companies, including the world’s first underground electric line, the City and South London Railway.

Over three million journeys are made every day on the Underground network, over 1 billion each year. An investment programme is attempting to address congestion and reliability problems, including £7 billion (€10 billion) of improvements planned for the 2012 Summer Olympics. London has been commended as the city with the best public transport. The Docklands Light Railway, which opened in 1987, is a second, more local metro system using smaller and lighter tram-type vehicles which serve Docklands and Greenwich.

There is an extensive above-ground suburban railway network, particularly in South London, which has fewer Underground lines. London houses Britain’s busiest station – Waterloo, with over 184 million people using the interchange station complex (which includes Waterloo East station) each year. The stations have services to South East and South West London, and also parts of South East and South West England. Most rail lines terminate around the centre of London, running into eighteen terminal stations with the exception of the Thameslink trains connecting Bedford in the north and Brighton in the south via Luton and Gatwick airports.

Since 2007 high-speed Eurostar trains link St. Pancras International with Lille, Paris, and Brussels. Journey times to Paris and Brussels of two-and-a-quarter hours and one hour 50 minutes respectively make London closer to continental Europe than the rest of Britain by virtue of the High Speed 1 rail link to the Channel Tunnel while the first high speed domestic trains started in June 2009 linking Kent to London.

Roads

The A102, near Greenwich. This was one of the few routes proposed in the Ringways Plan within Inner London to be built.

The A102, near Greenwich. This was one of the few routes proposed in the Ringways Plan within Inner London to be built.

Although the majority of journeys involving central London are made by public transport, car travel is common in the suburbs. 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. The M25 is the longest ring-road motorway in the world at 195.5 km (121.5 mi) long. The A1 and M1 connect London to Edinburgh, Leeds and Newcastle.

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 £10 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 is notorious for its traffic congestion, with the M25 motorway the busiest stretch in the country. The average speed of a car in the rush hour is 10.6 mph (17.1 km/h). London government initially anticipated the Congestion Charge Zone to increase daily peak period Underground and bus users by 20,000 people, reduce traffic by 10 to 15 per cent, increase traffic speeds by 10 to 15 per cent, and reduce queues by 20 to 30 per cent. Over the course of several years, the average number of cars entering the centre of London on a weekday was reduced from 195,000 to 125,000 cars – this is a 35-per-cent reduction of vehicles driven per day.

Education


Tertiary Education

University College London
University College London

London is a major centre of higher education teaching and research and its 43 universities form the largest concentration of higher education in Europe. In 2008/09 it had a higher education student population of around 412,000 (approximately 17 per cent of the UK total), of whom around 287,000 were registered for undergraduate degrees and 118,000 were studying at postgraduate level. In 2008/09 there were around 97,150 international students in London, approximately 25 per cent of all international students in the UK.

A number of world-leading education institutions are based in London. In the 2012 QS World University Rankings, University College London (UCL) is ranked 4th in the world, Imperial College London 6th, and King’s College London 26th. The London School of Economics has been described as the world’s leading social science institution for both teaching and research. The London Business School is considered one of the world’s leading business schools and in 2010 its MBA programme was ranked best in the world by the Financial Times.

The front façade of the Royal College of Music

The front façade of the Royal College of Music

With 125,000 students, the federal University of London is the largest contact teaching university in Europe. It includes four large multi-faculty universities – King’s College London, Queen Mary, Royal Holloway and UCL – and a number of smaller and more specialised institutions including Birkbeck, the Courtauld Institute of Art, Goldsmiths, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Institute of Education, the London Business School, the London School of Economics, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the Royal Academy of Music, the Central School of Speech and Drama, the Royal Veterinary College and the School of Oriental and African Studies. Members of the University of London have their own admissions procedures, and some award their own degrees.

There are a number of universities in London which are outside of the University of London system, including Brunel University, City University London, Imperial College London, Kingston University, London Metropolitan University (with over 34,000 students, the largest unitary university in London), London South Bank University, Middlesex University, University of the Arts London (the largest university of art, design, fashion, communication and the performing arts in Europe), University of East London, the University of West London and the University of Westminster. In addition there are three international universities in London – Regent’s College, Richmond University and Schiller International University.

London is home to five major medical schools – Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry (part of Queen Mary), King’s College London School of Medicine (the largest medical school in Europe), Imperial College School of Medicine, UCL Medical School and St George’s, University of London – and has a large number of affiliated teaching hospitals. It is also a major centre for biomedical research, and three of the UK’s five academic health science centres are based in the city – Imperial College Healthcare, King’s Health Partners and UCL Partners (the largest such centre in Europe). There are a number of business schools in London, including Cass Business School (part of City University London), ESCP Europe, European Business School London, Imperial College Business School and the London Business School. London is also home to many specialist arts education institutions, including the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, the London Contemporary Dance School, RADA, the Royal College of Art, the Royal College of Music and Trinity Laban.

Primary and Secondary Education

The majority of primary and secondary schools in London are state schools and are controlled by the London boroughs, although there are also a number of private schools in London, including old and famous schools such as the City of London School, Harrow, St Paul’s School, University College School, Highgate School and Westminster School.

Culture


Accent

The London accent long ago acquired the Cockney label, and was similar to many accents of the South East of England. The accent of a 21st-century ‘Londoner’ varies widely; what is becoming more and more common amongst the under-30s however is some fusion of Cockney with a whole array of ‘ethnic’ accents, in particular Caribbean, which form an accent labelled Multicultural London English (MLE).

Leisure and Entertainment

Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus

Within the City of Westminster, the entertainment district of the West End has its focus around Leicester Square, where London and world film premieres are held, and Piccadilly Circus, with its giant electronic advertisements. London’s theatre district is here, as are many cinemas, bars, clubs and restaurants, including the city’s Chinatown district (in Soho), and just to the east is Covent Garden, an area housing speciality shops. The city is the home of Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose musicals have dominated the West End theatre since the late 20th century. The United Kingdom’s Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Royal Opera and English National Opera are based in London and perform at the Royal Opera House, the London Coliseum, Sadler’s Wells Theatre and the Royal Albert Hall as well as touring the country.

Harrods in Knightsbridge

Harrods in Knightsbridge

Islington’s 1 mile (1.6 km) long Upper Street, extending northwards from the Angel, has more bars and restaurants than any other street in the United Kingdom. Europe’s busiest shopping area is Oxford Street, a shopping street nearly 1 mile (1.6 km) long, making it the longest shopping street in the United Kingdom. Oxford Street is home to vast numbers of retailers and department stores, including the world-famous Selfridges flagship store. Knightsbridge, home to the equally renowned Harrods department store, lies to the south-west.

London is home to designers Vivienne Westwood, Galliano, Stella McCartney, Manolo Blahnik, and Jimmy Choo among others; its renowned art and fashion schools make it an international centre of fashion alongside Paris, Milan and New York. London offers a great variety of cuisine as a result of its ethnically diverse population. Gastronomic centres include the Bangladeshi restaurants of Brick Lane and the Chinese food restaurants of Chinatown.

There is a variety of annual events, beginning with the relatively new New Year’s Day Parade, fireworks display at the London Eye, the world’s second largest street party, the Notting Hill Carnival is held during the late August Bank Holiday each year. Traditional parades include November’s Lord Mayor’s Show, a centuries-old event celebrating the annual appointment of a new Lord Mayor of the City of London with a procession along the streets of the City, and June’s Trooping the Colour, a formal military pageant performed by regiments of the Commonwealth and British armies to celebrate the Queen’s Official Birthday.

Literature, Film and Television

Sherlock Holmes Museum, Baker Street, London, bearing the number 221B
Sherlock Holmes Museum, Baker Street, London, bearing the number 221B

London has been the setting for many works of literature. The literary centres of London have traditionally been hilly Hampstead and (since the early 20th century) Bloomsbury. Writers closely associated with the city are the diarist Samuel Pepys, noted for his eyewitness account of the Great Fire, Charles Dickens, whose representation of a foggy, snowy, grimy London of street sweepers and pickpockets has been a major influence on people’s vision of early Victorian London, and Virginia Woolf, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the 20th century.

Keats House, where Keats wrote his Ode to a Nightingale. The village of Hampstead has historically been a literary centre in London.

Keats House, where Keats wrote his Ode to a Nightingale. The village of Hampstead has historically been a literary centre in London.

The pilgrims in Geoffrey Chaucer’s late 14th-century Canterbury Tales set out for Canterbury from London – specifically, from the Tabard inn, Southwark. William Shakespeare spent a large part of his life living and working in London; his contemporary Ben Jonson was also based there, and some of his work—most notably his play The Alchemist—was set in the city. A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) by Daniel Defoe is a fictionalisation of the events of the 1665 Great Plague. Later important depictions of London from the 19th and early 20th centuries are Dickens’ novels, and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. Modern writers pervasively influenced by the city include Peter Ackroyd, author of a “biography” of London, and Iain Sinclair, who writes in the genre of psychogeography.

London has played a significant role in the film industry, and has major studios at Ealing and a special effects and post-production community centred in Soho. Working Title Films has its headquarters in London. London has been the setting for films including Oliver Twist (1948), Peter Pan (1953), The Ladykillers (1955), The 101 Dalmatians (1961), Mary Poppins (1964), Blowup (1966), The Long Good Friday (1980), Secrets & Lies (1996), Notting Hill (1999), Match Point (2005), V For Vendetta (2005) and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (2008). London is a major centre for television production, with studios including BBC Television Centre, The Fountain Studios and The London Studios. Many television programmes have been set in London, including the popular television soap opera EastEnders, broadcast by the BBC since 1985.

Museums and Art Galleries


The British Museum

The British Museum

London is home to many museums, galleries, and other institutions, many of which are free of admission charges and are major tourist attractions as well as playing a research role. The first of these to be established was the British Museum in Bloomsbury, in 1753. Originally containing antiquities, natural history specimens and the national library, the museum now has 7 million artefacts from around the globe. In 1824 the National Gallery was founded to house the British national collection of Western paintings; this now occupies a prominent position in Trafalgar Square. In the latter half of the 19th century the locale of South Kensington was developed as “Albertopolis”, a cultural and scientific quarter. Three major national museums are located there: the Victoria and Albert Museum (for the applied arts), the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. The national gallery of British art is at Tate Britain, originally established as an annexe of the National Gallery in 1897. The Tate Gallery, as it was formerly known, also became a major centre for modern art; in 2000 this collection moved to Tate Modern, a new gallery housed in the former Bankside Power Station.

Music


The Royal Albert Hall hosts concerts and musical events

The Royal Albert Hall hosts concerts and musical events

London is one of the major classical and popular music capitals of the world and is home to major music corporations, such as EMI, as well as countless bands, musicians and industry professionals. The city is also home to many orchestras and concert halls, such as the Barbican Arts Centre (principal base of the London Symphony Orchestra), Cadogan Hall (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) and the Royal Albert Hall (The Proms). London’s two main opera houses are the Royal Opera House and the Coliseum Theatre. The UK’s largest pipe organ can be found at the Royal Albert Hall. Other significant instruments are found at the cathedrals and major churches. Several conservatoires are located within the city: Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Trinity College of Music.

Abbey Road Studios, 3 Abbey Road, St John's Wood, City of Westminster, London

Abbey Road Studios, 3 Abbey Road, St John’s Wood, City of Westminster, London

London has numerous venues for rock and pop concerts, including large arenas such as Earls Court, Wembley Arena and the O2 Arena, as well as many mid-sized venues, such as Brixton Academy, the Hammersmith Apollo and the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Several music festivals, including the Wireless Festival, are held in London. The city is home to the first and original Hard Rock Cafe and the Abbey Road Studios where The Beatles recorded many of their hits. In the 1970s and 1980s, musicians and groups like Elton John, David Bowie, Queen, Elvis Costello, Cat Stevens, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Electric Light Orchestra, Madness, The Jam, The Small Faces, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Fleetwood Mac, The Police, The Cure, Cream, Phil Collins and Sade, took the world by storm, deriving their sound from the streets and rhythms vibrating through London.

London was instrumental in the development of punk music, with figures such as the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Vivienne Westwood all based in the city. More recent artists to emerge from the London music scene include George Michael, Bananarama, Bush, East 17, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Spice Girls, Jamiroquai, Blur, The Prodigy, The Libertines, Babyshambles, Bloc Party, Mumford & Sons, Coldplay, Amy Winehouse and Adele. London is also a centre for urban music. In particular the genres UK garage, drum and bass, dubstep and grime evolved in the city from the foreign genres of hip hop and reggae, alongside local drum and bass. Black music station BBC Radio 1Xtra was set up to support the rise of home-grown urban music both in London and in the rest of the UK.

Sports


Centre Court at the All England Club hosting a Wimbledon Championships match in 2010.

Centre Court at the All England Club hosting a Wimbledon Championships match in 2010.

London has hosted the Summer Olympics three times: in 1908, 1948, and 2012. London was chosen in July 2005 to host the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, making it the first city to host the modern Games three times. London was also the host of the British Empire Games in 1934. London will host the 2017 World Championships in Athletics.

Wembley Stadium viewed from Wembley Way

Wembley Stadium viewed from Wembley Way

London’s most popular sport is football and it has fourteen League football clubs, including six in the Premier League: Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur, and West Ham United. In May 2012 Chelsea become the first London club to win the UEFA Champions League.

London also has five rugby union teams in the Aviva Premiership (London Irish, Saracens, Wasps, London Welsh and Harlequins), although only Harlequins and Saracens play in London (all the other three now play outside Greater London). The other professional rugby union team in the city is RFU Championship club London Scottish, that play home matches in the city. The city has other very traditional rugby union clubs, famously Richmond F.C., Rosslyn Park F.C., Westcombe Park R.F.C. and Blackheath F.C..

There are three professional rugby league clubs in London – London Broncos who play in the European Super League at The Stoop and the Championship One side the London Skolars (based in Wood Green, London Borough of Haringey) Hemel Stags based in Hemel Hempstead, north of London will play in the Championship One from 2013.

From 1924, the original Wembley Stadium was the home of the English national football team, and served as the venue for the FA Cup final as well as rugby league’s Challenge Cup final. The new Wembley Stadium serves exactly the same purposes and has a capacity of 90,000. Twickenham Stadium in south-west London is the national rugby union stadium, and has a capacity of 84,000 now that the new south stand has been completed.

Cricket in London is served by two Test cricket grounds Lord’s (home of Middlesex C.C.C.) in St John’s Wood and the Oval (home of Surrey C.C.C.) in Kennington. Lord’s has hosted four finals of the Cricket World Cup. One of London’s best-known annual sports competitions is the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, held at the All England Club in the south-western suburb of Wimbledon. Other key events are the annual mass-participation London Marathon which sees some 35,000 runners attempt a 26.2 miles (42.2 km) course around the city, and the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race on the River Thames between Putney and Mortlake.

The London Commuter Belt contains many internationally recognised golf courses such as, among others, Wentworth Golf Club and Sunningdale Golf Club.