London ( ( listen)) is the capital and most populous city of England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south east of the island of Great Britain, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. It was founded 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) medieval boundaries. Since at least the 19th century, "London" has also referred to the metropolis around this core, historically split between Middlesex, Essex, Surrey, Kent and Hertfordshire, which today largely makes up Greater London, a region governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.
London is a leading global city in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism and transportation. It is the world 's largest financial centre and has the fifth or sixth largest metropolitan area GDP in the world. London is often regarded as 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. It is the world 's leading investment destination, hosting more international retailers and ultra high-net-worth individuals than any other city.