Fun Facts About London

Most people in the world have probably heard of London. (If you haven’t, before you continue reading, get up right now and go and buy a map. And you should feel a bit silly, too.)

But how much do you really know about London the city? Yes it’s the capital of England, yes it’s huge (the ninth largest city in the world and the biggest in Europe), yes lots of people live there (a population of well over seven million people). But, let’s face it, these are pretty dull when it comes to fun facts.

Since Kaplan International Colleges has two schools in London, we thought we’d give you some truly entertaining facts about the English capital, a bit different to the normal (boring) information you might hear. So if you’re going to study English in London, or are hoping to, hold on to this blog post and memorize some exceptional facts to amaze your new friends.

  • London is highly diverse ethnically and culturally; around one in three Londoners is a foreign national. Over 300 languages are spoken in London, more than in any other city in the world - this makes London a language capital, and a great place to learn English!
  • London also has more international visitors than any other city in the world. Almost 15.5 million every year – join the party, you’ll fit right in!
  • cobra Harrods, London’s most famous shop, once used a cobra to guard a valuable pair of sandals. They were priced at £62,000 and were covered in diamonds and sapphires. Not a pair for the beach, then.
  • Over here in England, people drive on the left side of the road…except for one road: Savoy Court in London. Here cars are legally required to drive on the right; originally created in 1902 so that fancy folk could get straight out of their carriages into the Savoy Theatre. The law was never changed.
  • One area of London is the only English place name containing six consonants in a row: Knightsbridge.
  • Cab drivers in London are special. To become a taxi driver they must pass ‘The Knowledge Test’. Taking two to four years to study, they must memorize 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks. In fact, cab drivers’ brains are heavier on average than a regular brain.
  • In 1945, a flock of birds landed on the 14 foot long minute hand of Big Ben, putting the time back by five whole minutes.
  • A monument was built for those killed in the Great Fire of London in 1666; the number of people killed, however, was only eight. This is remarkable considering the fire destroyed around 80% of London's houses. In fact, before a safety rail was built there, more people died from falling or jumping off the monument than died in the fire itself.

London Underground:

The London Underground (known as the Tube) is the oldest and longest metro in the world, with over 270 stations and 400 km of tracks:

leinster-gardens
Photos showing the front and back of 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens (photo credit: Mike Slocombe).

  • Mosquitoes are not native to England and are rare in cities. However the warm, damp underground tunnels of the London Tube are a haven for them and a unique species of ‘tube mosquitoes’ has developed that survive all year long, and that would actually die in the English cold above ground.
  • House numbers 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens in London are actually fake houses built to hide the Tube line running underneath. The façades are false and behind the five foot thick walls is just air. The windows are painted on and the doors have no letter boxes (picture).
Now go. Dazzle. You can even pretend they are your facts about London, and take all the credit, as long as you share with your friends.

Do you know any good facts? Let us know.

Glossary:

Consonants: letters of the alphabet that represent basic speech sounds created by diverting or obstructing the flow of air from the lungs: ‘p’, ‘t’ and ‘l’ for example (the opposite of a vowel: ‘a’, ‘e’, ‘i’, ‘o’ and ‘u’).

Monument: a structure created to commemorate a famous or notable person or event.

Façades: an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal the reality behind.

Are you interested in traveling to London? Kaplan has created the 8 Great Things to do in London motiongraphic, which shows the best things to do in the capital, according to our students. Click on the motiongraphic link to join the conversation.

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