According to abbreviationfinder, London is the capital and residence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with (2017) 8,830,000 residents, one of the largest cities in Europe, located in the south of England on both sides of the Thames.
London is a global city; it is a center of world trade and, together with New York, the world’s leading financial center. In London there are several universities, colleges and colleges, scientific and artistic societies (British Academy, Royal Society, etc.) as well as famous museums (including British Museum, National Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, Madame Tussaud’s wax museum). London is the first city in the world to have an underground (since 1890). Heathrow International Airport is the largest in Europe.
Cityscape: London is one of the world’s most popular city break destinations. It has famous churches and many important historical buildings, including Westminster Abbey, Saint Paul’s Cathedral with its mighty dome, the fortress Tower (now a museum) and the Tower Bridge, the Parliament building with a landmark of the city, the clock tower “Big Ben”, and the royal palaces (Buckingham Palace). Modern high-rise office buildings (Swiss Re Tower, The Shard, etc.) have changed the silhouette of the London skyline significantly after the turn of the millennium.
History: London, originally a Celtic settlement, was already an important trading center in Roman times (“Londinium”). In the 11th century London, which had long competed with Winchester, took on the role of capital; William the Conqueror was the first king to be crowned at Westminster Abbey.
Politics and law
Great Britain is a parliamentary monarchy. Elizabeth II has been the head of state since 1952. The heir to the throne has the title of Prince of Wales. Since 2015, boys no longer have priority over girls in the right of succession to the throne. The Queen is kept fully informed by the government, but she has essentially only representative tasks and has to sign all laws passed by Parliament. The executive power lies with the cabinet under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, since 2019 Boris Johnson (* 1964). The Prime Minister and the ministers he proposes are appointed by the Queen. You must belong to the House of Commons. The government in the broader sense (Ministry) consists of around 100 people, of which around 20 form the cabinet as the narrower government.
The constitutional order is largely based on unwritten law, the common law, and on old legal acts, starting with the Magna Charta (1215) and the Habeas Corpus Act (1678). Common law and its additions to individual law (equity) are further developed through court decisions.
Laws are passed by the bicameral parliament, which consists of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The British Parliament has a strong position because laws cannot restrict its freedom of action. The House of Lords’ rights to participate in legislation are limited. Following a fundamental reform in 1999, it has around 800 members, most of whom were elevated to the nobility. The lower house is the representative body. The 650 MPs (2017) are elected by majority voting. That is, one seat corresponds to one constituency. The electoral term has been fixed at five years since 2011. Due to the majority voting system, there is in fact a two-party system consisting of the Conservative Party (also known as the Tories) and the Labor Party. The Conservatives have formed a minority government since 2017.
The United Kingdom is centrally governed and administered. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own regional parliaments and regional governments.
Freedom of the press is very important. In England a diverse press landscape (newspaper) developed early on, which today is concentrated on a few corporations. The tabloids and Sunday newspapers are widely read. The British Broadcasting Company (BBC), founded in 1922, has established high standards in public broadcasting, which is funded by user fees.
British foreign policy has the whole world in view. There are close ties to the former colonies in the Commonwealth of Nations and to the USA. Great Britain is a founding member of NATO and, as the owner of nuclear missiles on submarines, a permanent member of the UN Security Council. A significant part of the armed forces is stationed or deployed abroad. Despite leaving the European Union on January 31, 2020, the country will continue to play a key role in European defense policy. Great Britain decided not to join the European Economic and Monetary Union (Eurozone) and the Schengen Agreement from the outset.
The UK economy is one of the strongest in the world. The kingdom is wealthy. Four out of five Britons now work in the service sector, i.e. in administration, in the health and education sector, in culture, advertising or for the media, as well as in banks, insurance companies and tourism. The financial sector is very strong. With stock exchanges like the London Stock Exchange and hundreds of banks, London is one of the most important international financial centers. Foreign tourism is increasing steadily.
The main industries that are manufactured are automobiles, chemical products, and pharmaceuticals. The textile industry, the iron and steel industry and shipbuilding have lost their great importance and are now concentrated in only a few locations. The state has accelerated change because it has withdrawn from the economy as an entrepreneur since the 1980s and no longer pays financial aid (subsidies). Many foreign companies have set up shop for this, especially from the automotive, high-tech and electronics industries. The most important British trading partners are EU countries, especially Germany, and the USA. Significantly more goods and services are imported than exported.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland have efficient agriculture, mostly on a large scale. Livestock farming predominates, especially sheep and cattle breeding and milk production. The country is one of the largest European fishing nations. By producing crude oil (since 1975) and natural gas (since 1967) in the North Sea and operating nuclear power plants (from 1956), the British have been able to supply themselves with energy. When it comes to renewable energies, wind power is the most important. On the Scottish coast there are experimental power plants being tested that use the energy of ocean waves to generate electricity. The hard coal reserves have not been mined since 2015 because it is too expensive. 100 years ago there were more than a million miners.
The kingdom has many seaports and a dense network of roads and railways. High-speed trains travel through the Eurotunnel to mainland Europe. Heathrow Airport, one of five London airports, is one of the busiest in the world. In the old trading ports such as London and Liverpool, the Docklands, chic apartments have emerged or museums, media companies and artists have settled.