The expansion in the 19th century of the British Empire increased London’s influence still further . SinceWorld War II the city’s prominence on the international stage has diminshed , but it remains a flourishing financial centre and home to one of the world’s most important stock exchanges .
In addition , it is the foremost tourist destination in Britain , a centre of academic excellence and one of the cultural capitals of the world – well deserving of the observation by Samuel Johnson that : ” When a man is tired of London , he is tired of life “ .
The term “ City of London “ , or “the City “ , is applied only to a small area known as the SquareMile ( 2.59 sq km/1 sq mi ) that was the original settlement (ancient Londinium ) and is now part of the financial and business district of the metropolis . The city of London and 32 surrounding boroughs constitute the Greater London metropolitan area , which covers some 1,580 sq km (620 sq mi ).
The 13 inner London boroughs are Camden , Hackney , Hammersmith and Fulham , Haringery , Islington , Kensington and Chelsea , Lambeth , Lewisham , Newham , Southwark , Tower Hamlets , Wandsworth and the City of Westminster . The 19 outer boroughs are Barking and Dagenham , Barnet , Bexley , Brent , Bromley , Croydon , Ealing , Enfield , Greenwich , Harrow , Havering , Hillingdon , Hounslow , Kingston upon Thames , Merton Redbridge , Richmond upon Thames , Sutton and Waltham Forest .
Museums and Art Galleries
London’s museums and art galleries contain some of the most comprehesive collection of objects of artistic , archaeological , dcientific , historical and general interest . The British Museum in Bloomsbury is one of the biggest an most famous museums in the world . Its collectionrange from Egyptian and Classical antiquities through Saxon treasures to more recent artefacts .
The Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington is an assembly of fine and decorative art collection from all over the world . There are magnificent examples of porcelain , glass , sculpture , fabrics and costume , furniture , and musical instruments , all set in a building of Victorian grandeur .Nearby are the Museum of Natural History and the Science Museum . On the other side of London , in the city itself , is the Museum of London , which has exhibits dealing with the development of the capital from its origins to the present day .
The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square contains one of the finest mixed collections of paintings in the world . Next door is the NationalPortrait Gallery , whose collection includes more than 9,000 portraits . The Tate Gallery , situated on the Embankmen between Chelsea and Westminster , houses the largest collection of British painting from the 16th century to the present day . In 1987 an extension opened to house the paintings bequeathed to the nation by J.M.W.Turner . There are plans to establish a new Tate Gallery of Modern Art in Southwark , near the reconstructed Shakespearean theatre , the Globe .
Other important collections in the capital include the Imperial War Museum , the National Army Museum , the Royal Air Force Museum , the National Maritime Museum , the Wallace Collection ( of paintings , furniture , arms and armour , and objets d’art ), Sir John Soane’s Museum (founded by the architect of the Bank of England in the City ), and the London Transport Museum . The Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace has axhibitions of pictures from the extensive royal collection . The Theatre Museum displays the history of the performings arts , while the Museum of the Moving Image traces the history of film and television .
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