Differences between ‘London’ and the ‘City of London’

city of london

London is much more than London, and also less, according to how you look at it. Just the way we showed you in our article on the city of Wells… London is the biggest city in the United Kingdom, but also the smallest. It may seem like a contradiction, but that’s the way it is, as there are two Londons, one inside the other. Look at the map:

Greater London
Greater London area and the City of London (red)

Just like with the Vatican and Rome, in London there’s a ‘neighbourhood’ called the ‘City’, but it’s not a neighbourhood; it has had a special status for ages (literally – historical ages).

Here are two videos that will give you a quick overview of the main differences, but here are some of the key characteristics:

  • More than eight million people live inGreater London’, the capital of England and the United Kingdom.
  • About 11,000 people live in theCity of London’. It’s organized completely independently from the rest of the country.
  • Both cities have different city halls, mayors, tax collection, police, and even laws.
  • When it comes to some things, the ‘City of London’ acts on its own, just as the other countries making up the United Kingdom (Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and English) do.
  • The organization that governs the City is older than England itself… yes, older.
  • The City was built by the Romans and called ‘Londinium’. They built a wall and the city grew inside it. When William the Conqueror, after unifying England, couldn’t conquer the City, he offered Londoners privileges that have prevailed from 1075 until today.
  • William I founded another capital (Westminster) to take away power from the City, which has grown so much that today it has become Greater London.
  • Not all the London and English laws apply directly to the City, which are decided separately. In addition, the City mayor is also chosen by guilds and big companies (!). Because it’s almost informally independent.
  • Incidentally, it’s said that the Queen of England can’t enter the City without first asking for permission from the Mayor of London. Traditions…

But to avoid reading so much, you can watch the video, which has a visual explanation of everything:

City coat of arms

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