18 little known facts about London

London is one of the most visited cities in the world, and aside from its tourist attractions, is also known as top spot for attracting business and talent. The city has plenty of interesting experienced to offer, from visiting the iconic “Big Ben” clock tower to enjoying panoramic views from the London Eye observation wheel. What makes this city with a population of almost 9 million so fascinating is its history stretching back to Roman times. There will always be something new and surprising to discover about London, such as:

  1. You need excellent memory to become a black-cab driver

Every cab driver needs to pass the Knowledge, an extremely difficult London geography test. Successful candidates need to master 320 basic routes, 25,000 streets contained by these routes, and around 20,000 places of interest within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross.

london cab

  1. London used to be the most densely populated city in the world

Its supremacy ended in 1925, when it was surpassed by Tokyo. Today, the most densely populated city seems to be Dhaka, with a density of 44,500 people per square kilometer, followed by Mumbai, Medellin, and Manila.

  1. St. Paul’s Cathedral could have been embellished with a… pineapple

Sir Christopher Wren’s first design proposal for the famous cathedral featured a 60-foot high stone pineapple atop the dome – in his opinion, the pineapple symbolized peace and prosperity.

  1. The last person to be executed at the Tower of London was a German agent

Josef Jakobs, a German intelligence agent, was shot at the Tower Of London by firing squad in 1941.

tower of london

  1. Only six people died in the Great Fire of London

This major disaster lasted from September 2 to September 5, 1666, with the fire starting at the medieval City of London inside the old Roman city wall. The fire consumed the homes of 70,000 of London’s 80,000 inhabitants. The death toll is of only six verified death, but some historians consider that the number was actually larger, since the deaths of poor and middle-class people were not recorded. A positive effect of the fire, however, was destroying unsanitary housing and preventing new plague outbreaks.

  1. It was against the law to die in the Houses of Parliament

This absurd law concerning the legalities surrounding someone’s death had a reason behind it. The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, are a Royal Palace, and anyone who dies in such a place is entitled to a state funeral. The punishment for breaking this law is not known, though.

  1. London was once the capital city of six countries at the same time

Today London is only the capital of the United Kingdom, but during World War II, it hosted the governments-in-exile of six countries, starting with Poland and followed by Norway, Belgium, Holland, and France. The reason for this was London’s status as one of the few safe cities left in Europe for those who opposed the Nazi regime.

london bombed

  1. The first traffic light system in London was deadly

In 1868, the first traffic light system in the world was installed on Parliament Square. A year later, it blew up and killed the policeman that it had been designed to replace.

  1. London is one of the most diverse cities in the world

There are said to be 300 languages spoken in the capital of the United Kingdom. Ethnic groups in London as discovered by the 2011 census include: 44.9% white British, 14.9% other white, 18.4% Asian, 13.3% Black, 1.3% Arab, 5% mixed, and 2.2% other.

  1. The statue of George Washington in Trafalgar Square in London sits on soil imported from the USA

The reason for this is that George Washington claimed that he would never again step foot on English soil.

  1. There are 20 subterranean rivers in London

They are tributaries of the River Thames and River Lea that were built over during the growth of the metropolis. The rivers now flow through underground culverts. The largest is The River Fleet, north of River Thames.

subterranean river

  1. London was the first city in the world to have a population of one million people

The one million inhabitants mark was reached in 1811.

  1. It doesn’t rain that much in London

It is known to rain a lot in London, but the capital of the United Kingdom actually receives less rainfall in a year than cities like Rome, Naples, Sydney, and Toulouse. The rain is simply spread over more days.

  1. The London Zoo has some interesting stories

One would be that during the 18th century in London you could obtain free admission to the zoo by bringing a cat or dog to feed to the lions. And when World War II broke out, the London Zoo euthanized all their venomous animals in case the zoo was bombed and the animals managed to escape.

london zoo

  1. London can be classified as a forest

40% of Greater London is made up of green space. According to the UN definition, the volume of trees in London makes it possible to classify it as a forest.

  1. You can visit the place where more than 50,000 people were hanged

The site of the original Tyburn Tree, London’s official execution place, is located at the junction of Edgware Road and Marble Arch.

  1. The tube is the only place where you can find mosquitoes in London

Mosquitoes are not native to Britain and can only be found in the tube. It is thought they have reached underground trains from Heathrow where they arrived by plane. The insects have developed unique species in this unusual habitat.

south wimbledon

  1. London is one of the most visited cities in the world

It attracted over 16 million international visitors in 2014. In 2016, it was ranked as the world top city destination by TripAdvisor users. Tourism is one of London’s prime industries, employing the equivalent of 350,000 full-time workers in 2003. The most visited attractions are The British Museum, The National Gallery, The Natural History Museum, The Southbank Centre, and The Tate Modern.

Now you just have to visit London yourself and you will surely discover some more interesting facts about the largest city in the United Kingdom.