Greater London consists of 32 local boroughs that form the basis for London’s local government. The names of several boroughs—such as ‘Westminster’ or ‘Camden’—are well-known and self explanatory, others less so, such as ‘Hackney’ or ‘Tower Hamlets’.
A new comer’s London, however, is more easily defined geographically: Central, West, East, North and South London.
Central London is historical and financial the core of the city. Westminster is the home of the British government and royal family. It is also London’s main entertainment and shopping district, with locations such as Oxford Street, Leicester Square, and Piccadilly Circus. Covent Garden is known as the designer and alternative shopping, as well as a famous opera house.
The geography of West London is dominated by the River Thames as it winds its way eastward from the Lower Thames Valley towards the sea. The river is a focus of life for many in West London, a place for riverside walks, cycling, rowing, sailing. West London is popular with travelers and short- to mid-term residents (backpackers, working holiday makers, etc.) for a variety of factors, including its proximity to Heathrow International and its multiple, easy transport connections with the West End and Central London. The West London area, further out from the center, is now known for fashionable and expensive residential areas such as Notting Hill, Kensington and Chelsea — where properties sell on average for over £800,000.
Meanwhile, the eastern side of London contains the East End —the area closest to the original Port of London, known for its high immigrant population, as well as for being one of the poorest areas in London. The surrounding East London area, of which the East End is seen to form a part, saw much of London’s early industrial development, and is currently part of the Thames Gateway regeneration that includes the 2012 Olympics. North London and South London are informal divisions of the capital made by the River Thames, although they can define varying areas.
South West London is the western part of Greater London that lies south of the river Thames and extends from the borders of Central London into the Surrey countryside. Generally more affluent than its eastern counterpart, South West London tends to be a region of large parks and gardens, and comfortable suburbs. South West London has a significant royal and aristocratic heritage and is home to Wimbledon, “the home of tennis,” and Twickenham, the “home of rugby,” South East London extends into the Kentish countryside and includes the famous area of Greenwich – home to the Cutty Sark, the National Maritime Museum, the Greenwich Observatory and Prime Meridian.
North London is that part of London which is north of the River Thames. Some of its more famous towns include Camden Town, Kings Cross and Wembley, home to London’s famous Stadium, home of English football, and the Arena, a venue for many big international acts.
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