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London city profile | city data
  • Dramatically increasing property prices are putting cultural life in London under threat.
  • A new Night Time Commission has been created to support London’s night time economy.
  • In the wake of the 2012 Olympic Games, a £1.3 billion project is turning the former Olympic Park into a new cultural hub.

City data: Key facts

  • Geographical area: 1,572 sq. km
  • Total population: 9,006,352
  • GDP (PPP) million: $565,000


Founded by the Romans, London has long been a major world city, with its connections developed over centuries through international trade. The impact of Britain’s early industrial revolution meant that London was the world’s largest city throughout most of the 19th century and into the 20th century. After the loss of Britain’s industrial base, London retained its influence through its financial services sector and its cultural ‘soft power’.

Today London has a population of nearly nine million. It is very diverse; 37% of Londoners were born outside of the UK, 40% of Londoners identify as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic, and there are over 300 languages spoken. Pre-eminent as a centre of financial and business services, London is also a centre of the cultural and creative industries including film, fashion and design, alongside an increasingly vibrant tech industry. Culture in London drives tourism, generates £47 billion for the UK’s economy annually and employs one in six people. London attracts millions of visitors with its heritage, and is home to some of the most popular museums in the world, including the British Museum, Tate Modern and the National Gallery.

However, London’s economic and cultural power faces challenges, including increasing inequality. Londoner’s face increasing property prices, housing shortages, rent rises and a high cost of living. Artists’ studios, music venues, LGBT+ venues, pubs and clubs are vulnerable to rising rates and rents. Meanwhile, despite its exponential growth, London’s creative workforce does not reflect its population, with a lack of diversity and the deprioritising of creative subjects in schools posing a risk to the talent pipeline. London’s future may also be profoundly affected by the UK’s departure from the European Union, scheduled for March 2019. Its internationally connected economy depends upon the free flow of capital, trade and people, and its creative sector is no exception; a third of London’s creative jobs are filled by international talent and just under half of the UK’s creative services export is to the European Union.

These challenges are being addressed by the Mayor of London. For the first time, under Mayor Sadiq Khan, culture has been made a top priority for London. The Mayor’s draft new London Plan – the capital’s spatial and urban development strategy – now has a dedicated chapter with new policies to safeguard and grow culture and heritage across London. The Plan focuses on ‘good growth’, to deliver a more socially integrated and sustainable city, a fundamental step change in London’s development. The Mayor’s draft Culture Strategy is the city’s most ambitious to date and embeds the good growth principle across all initiatives including new Creative Enterprise Zones, designated areas to support artists and creative businesses to put down roots and thrive. The new draft Culture Strategy prioritises people and access, built on the principle of culture for all Londoners. New programmes such as London Borough of Culture will celebrate local areas and communities. It also recognises the need to invest in a diverse creative workforce for the future.

Alongside policymaking for communities, there is also an ambition for major infrastructure development, often aimed at regenerating outer areas of London. The Mayor is investing in a £1.1 billion project to create East Bank at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park; a major new culture and education district. University College London, Sadler’s Wells, the BBC, UAL’s London College of Fashion, the Smithsonian Institution and the V&A Museum are among the major institutions which will make this new district into a world-class destination and help regenerate and provide new opportunities in East London.

London remains one of the world’s leading cities and the Mayor is committed to supporting and growing London’s unparalleled cultural offer to ensure that it is of benefit to all Londoners.