London is one of the most important cities in the world; a centre for trade and finance based around a network of communications and transport.
Key to London’s success is the River Thames, which enabled the city to develop as a trading hub.
The Romans first established a harbour on the Thames around 200 BC, spurring the development of a city around the port.
They built up the waterfront, extending the banks of the river with wooden frames that acted as a harbour.
The Roman harbour remains the basis of the London today, and the City of London is on the site of the original Roman settlement.
Having gradually grown since Roman times, London expanded quickly in the 16th and 17th century as world trade picked up pace.
By 1700, the Thames was one of the world’s busiest waterways, bringing trade into London from all over the British Empire.
A series of enclosed docks were constructed to protect cargoes
from piracy; the docks now house the financial district, Canary Wharf.
London’s continued success is owed to its position at the centre of a vital range of global, national and local networks that spread far beyond the city’s boundaries.
For example, Heathrow is a global transport hub and the busiest international airport in the world by international passenger numbers flowing through its terminals.
London is the world’s largest financial centre, and along with New York and Tokyo; Canary Wharf is considered one of the three ‘command centres’ controlling the global economic network.
At the peak of the British Empire, a quarter of the Earth’s population and a fifth of its total land area was shaped by decisions in London.
On a national scale, London is the centre of the economic and transport network of the United Kingdom, with almost all motorways and major rail lines in the South-East leading towards it.
Along with the Thames, these man-made networks bring the life-blood which keeps the heart of London pumping.