London is one of the world's most important financial and cultural centres and is noted for its museums, performing arts, exchange and commodity markets, and insurance and banking functions, as well as a host of specialised services. In popular and traditional usage, the term City of London, or the City, is applied only to a small area (2.59 sq. km) that was the original settlement (ancient Londinium) and is now part of the business and financial district of the metropolis. The City of London and 32 surrounding boroughs form the Greater London metropolitan area, which has an area of 1579 sq. km. The Urban Landscape
The physical layout of contemporary London is the product of complex historical events and growth forces. The fort of Londinium, founded by the Romans in the mid-1st century AD, and the administrative centre established at Westminster 1000 years later, served as the centres for succeeding development in central London.
The city of London has been largely rebuilt since World War II (1939-1945), reinforcing its importance as a financial and commercial centre. The City is linked by Fleet Street and High Holborn to Westminster, and London Bridge provides access to South London on the southern side of the Thames River. To the north and east, beyond the limit of the former Roman and medieval walls of the City, is the East End. Noted for its production of furniture and precision instruments, this area was more damaged by bombing during World War II than any other part of London and has been the scene of large reconstruction. Traditionally, the East End, with such neighbourhoods as Whitechapel, Limehouse, and Bethnal Green, was occupied by various ethnic minorities and the poor.
On the western side of the City is the legal quarter. This area is one of the important rests of the medieval city along Fleet Street. In the 14th century the Temple, which had been founded by the Knights Templars, became occupied by lawyers; and later, Temple Inn and numerous other Inns of Court, such as Lincoln's Inn and Gray's Inn, arose in the neighbourhood. In the 19th century the Royal Courts of Justice were constructed just off the Strand. To the north is Bloomsbury, which is the centre for the University of London and the British Museum and is also known for its association with such literary figures as Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence.
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