London is host to many company headquarters. More than half of the UK's top 100 listed companies (the FTSE 100) and over 100 of Europe's 500 largest companies are headquartered in central London. Over 70% of the FTSE 100 are located within London's metropolitan area. Media and professional services are important sectors.
BBC London, the BBC's local television news service on national channel BBC One
Much of the British media is concentrated in London (see Media in London). The BBC is a key employer, and many other broadcasters also have headquarters around the city. Many national newspapers are edited in London, having traditionally been associated with Fleet Street in the City, but they are now primarily based around Canary Wharf. The post-production industry in Soho is also strong, as is publishing.
Tourism is one of London's largest industries and employed the equivalent of 350,000 full-time workers in London in 2003, whilst annual expenditure by tourists is around ?15bn. London is the world's most popular city destination for tourists, attracting 27m overnight-stay visitors every year.
From once being the largest port in the world, the Port of London is now only the third-largest in the United Kingdom, handling 50 million tonnes of cargo each year. The main docks are now at Tilbury, which is outside the boundary of Greater London.
With increasing industrialisation, London's population grew rapidly throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, becoming the most populated city in the world for a period in the late 19th century. Some 7,420,600 people were estimated to live in London as of 2004 at an overall density of 4,697 people per square kilometre.
It has historically been known as one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, and this continues in the modern day, with more than 300 languages spoken and 50 non-indigenous communities with a population of more than 10,000 living in London. In the 2001 census, it was shown that 40% of London's population classified themselves as non-British, with 29% classifying themselves as "non-white".
In terms of religion, London is historically dominated by Christianity, and consequently has a large number of churches, particularly in the City. The famous St Paul's Cathedral in the City and Southwark Cathedral south of the river are Anglican administrative centres, whilst 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, a relatively recent edifice which is the largest Roman Catholic cathedral in England and Wales.
Despite this dominance, London is also home to sizeable Muslim, Hindu 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. A large Hindu community exists in Southall, West London, and has constructed the largest Hindu temple in Europe, Neasden Temple. The majority of British Jews live in London, with significant Jewish communities in Stamford Hill and Golders Green in North London.
Parks and gardens
London is well endowed with open spaces. The eight Royal Parks of London, covering over 5,000 acres of land, are former royal hunting grounds which are now open to the public. Four of these - Green Park, St James's Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens - form a green strand through the western side of the city centre, whilst a fifth, Regent's Park is just to the north. Many of the smaller green spaces in central London are garden squares which were built for the private use of the residents of the fashionable districts, but in some cases are now open to the public.
The remaining (and largest) three Royal Parks are in the suburbs - Greenwich Park to the south east, and Bushy Park and Richmond Park to the south west. In addition to these spaces, a large number of council-owned parks were developed between the mid 19th century and the Second World War, including Victoria Park, Alexandra Park and Battersea Park. Other major open spaces in the suburbs, such as Hampstead Heath, Wimbledon Common and Epping Forest, have a more informal and semi-natural character, having originally been countryside areas protected against surrounding urbanisation. Some cemeteries provide extensive green land within the city - notably Highgate Cemetery, burial place of Karl Marx and Michael Faraday amongst others.
Completing London's array of green spaces are two paid entrance gardens - the leader is the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, whilst the royal residence of Hampton Court Palace also has a celebrated garden.
Education & institutions
London has the largest student population of any British city (about 378,000), although not the highest per capita. It is home to a diverse number of universities, colleges and schools, and is a leading centre of research and development. Most primary & secondary schools in London follow the same system as the rest of England.
With 125,000 students, the University of London is the largest contact teaching university in the United Kingdom and in Europe. It comprises over 50 colleges and institutes with a high degree of autonomy. Constituent colleges have their own admissions procedures, and are effectively universities in their own right, although all degrees are awarded by the University of London rather than the individual colleges. Its most prestigious colleges are King's, LSE, Imperial, SOAS and UCL; while smaller member institutes include Queen Mary, the Institute of Education, and Birkbeck College, which specialises in part time and mature students.
There are other universities, such as UeL, the University of Westminster and London South Bank University, not part of the University of London, some of which were polytechnics until UK polytechnics were granted university status in 1992, and others which were founded much earlier.
London is home to a number of important museums and other institutions which are major tourist attractions as well as playing a research role. The Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum (dealing with fashion and design) are clustered in South Kensington's "museum quarter", whilst the British Museum houses important artefacts from around the world. The British Library at St Pancras is the most important library in the country, housing 150 million items. The city also houses extensive art collections, primarily in the National Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern.
London has been the setting for many works of literature. The two writers who are perhaps most closely associated with the city are the diarist Samuel Pepys, famous among other things for his eyewitness account of the Great Fire, and Charles Dickens, whose representation of a foggy, snowy, grimy London of street sweepers and pickpockets is a major influence on people's vision of early Victorian London.
James Boswell's Life of Johnson is the most notable biography in English. Most of it takes place in London, and is the source of Johnson's famous aphorism: "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."
The earlier (1722) A Journal of the Plague Year 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 the afore-mentioned Dickens novels, and Arthur Conan Doyle's famous Sherlock Holmes stories. The 1933 novel Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell describes life in poverty in both cities. Among modern writers, perhaps the most pervasively influenced by the city is Peter Ackroyd in works such as London: The Biography, The Lambs of London and Hawksmoor.