The city of Londinium was founded by the Romans on the north bank of the River Thames in around 50 AD. There is no evidence of a Celtic town prior to the Roman settlement. It is believed to have become the capital of the Roman province of Britannia in the early second century. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Roman city was virtually abandoned and a Saxon town named Lundenwic was established a mile or two west in the Aldwych area in the 7th century AD. The fortified Roman City of London was reoccupied around the late 9th-early 10th century, whereafter it resumed its role as England's biggest city (although not its capital - Winchester served as capital until the 12th century). By the 18th century London was the biggest city in the world.
Over the years, London has increased dramatically in size, absorbing meadows, woodlands, villages and towns and spreading outwards in every direction. Outward growth has been physically interrupted (though by no means halted) through the definition of a Green Belt. In recent years development has been concentrated in the London Docklands and Thames Gateway areas of East London.
In contrast, the East End has played host to successive waves of immigrants for centuries and contains some of the UK's more deprived areas. The Isle of Dogs is however witnessing unprecedented commercial change and many restaurants, music and comedy clubs are injecting a more varied atmosphere. See also gentrification. The East End is centred on the Borough of Tower Hamlets and Hackney.
He is regulated to some extent by an Assembly elected by a proportional voting system, which is unusual in the British political context. Improvements in public safety and transport are his key priorities.
There is every likelihood that the Mayor and the Assembly will be in conflict with one or more Boroughs from time to time: they had each enjoyed "unitary status" and a fair degree of autonomy since the Greater London (county) Council, also led by Livingstone, was abolished by the Conservative Government led by Margaret Thatcher in 1986.
The citizens of London are, and have been for many centuries, diverse in most respects. On census day, 2001, the City and the 32 boroughs (some 1579 km2 or 610 sq miles) had 7,172,036 inhabitants, making London one of the most populous cities in Europe alongside Moscow, Istanbul and Paris.
Special train stations built at Gatwick, Luton and Stansted help to offset their physical remoteness from the capital and thus spread scheduled airline services in a safe and manageable way across the region.