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London 2

The history of London, GB’s capital and chief tourist attraction, goes back nearly 2,000 years to A. D. 43, when the Romans founded a trading port, called Londinium, on the river Thames. Today, the area where Roman London stood is still known as the City of London. This area, often called “the City”, and the 32 boroughs (local units of govern­ment) around it make up Greater London.

The City of London’s financial district and consists largely of modern bank and office buil­dings. But it also contains such historic buildings as St. Paul’s Cathedral, built by the great English architect Sir Christopher Wren between 1675 and 1710.

Central London contains the busiest and best-known parts of London. The Tower of London, once a royal prison, is now a museum where Britain’s crown jewels are on display. In Westminster, the center of Britain’s government, are the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace. The city’s main shopping and entertainment districts lie nearby.

London has many professional theaters and four world-known symphony orchestras. Numerous art galleries and museums are found in the city, and the South Bank section of central London is the site of a large, modern cultural center.

London is also rich in traditional ceremonies. Every morning, the famous changing-of-the-guard ceremony takes place in Buckingham Palace’s courtyard. Trooping the Colour is a tra­ditional part of the queen’s official birthday celebration in June. The Lord Mayor’s Show, on the second Saturday in November, celebrates the election of a new lord mayor of London. Like most other large cities today, it has such problems as poverty, crime and drug addiction, especially in the poorer districts. Its economy is based on service industries and manufacturing.