1. London is the capital of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, its political, economic and commercial centre. It is an ancient city of more than twenty centuries old. It is the largest city in Britain and one of the largest of the world. London is not only the capital of the country; it is also a huge port.
2. The population of London is about 9 million.
3. London is situated on the river Thames. The Thames, which is known to Londoners simply as “the river”, flows through London, dividing it into north and south. There are 17 bridges over the Thames, but perhaps the best known of them are Waterloo, Tower and London bridges. All of them carry heavy traffic from one side of the river to the other.
4. The most important parts of London are the City, the West End and the East End.
5. The City is the oldest part of London. It covers only about a square mile and about ten thousand people live there. During the day it is full of people, but at the end of the day businessmen, clerks and secretaries go home and the City becomes silent and almost empty. Over a million people come to the City every day to work in big banks and offices. The City is the financial and business part of London. Numerous banks, offices and trusts are concentrated there.
6. The West End is a symbol of wealth and luxury. It is the richest part of London. Here you can see the most beautiful places of London: wide streets, the finest theatres, cinemas and concert halls, large museums and the best hotels and the largest department stores. There are splendid houses and lovely parks and gardens there.
7. The East End is unattractive in appearance. It includes the port, docks, a lot of factories and workshops. This part of London is very important in the country's economy and commerce because a lot of workers work and live there. There is a striking contrast between the East End and the West End, the streets are narrow and there are no big parks or gardens in the East End. It is a densely populated district.
8. There are a lot of places of interest in London, such as the Tower, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, St. Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and others.
9. The Tower of London is an old castle on the bank of the Thames formerly a fortress, a palace and a prison. Now the Tower is a museum and houses the Crown jewels and other treasures.
10. The Palace of Westminster - the proper name for the Houses of Parliament - was the king's palace for five hundred years. Big Ben is the name given to the clock and bell of the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament. It is interesting that the clock "Big Ben" came into service in 1859. Big Ben is the biggest clock bell in Britain. It weighs 13.5 tons. Westminster Abbey is very old and very beautiful, and it is full of history. Nearly all the kings and queens of Britain were crowned and buried there. Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Newton, Darwin were buried there too.
11. Trafalgar Square is the geographical centre of London. It was so named in memory of Lord Nelson's great naval victory in 1805, when he destroyed the French fleet in the battle of Trafalgar. The statue of Lord Nelson, Britain's national hero stands on top of the column in the centre of the square.
12. St. Paul's Cathedral was designed by Christopher Wren. The most notable feature of it is the enormous dome. It took Wren 35 years to build the cathedral.
13. Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the Queen. It was built in the 18th century.
14. London is the centre of Britain's cultural life. There are a lot of museums and art galleries in London: the National Gallery, the Tate gallery, the Natural History Museum and a lot of others. The British Museum is well known as one of the largest museums in the world. It is really a history museum. One can see there Egyptian statues, sphinxes, mummies, Roman sculptures, drawings and paintings. The Museum has a rich library with copies of rare manuscripts.
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