Study Abroad in London

About London

Official Language: English
Population: 8.5 million
Square Mileage: 1,579 km (609 sq mi)
Currency: Pound Sterling
Nickname: Quid
Climate: Temperate maritime climate with four seasons:
Winters - cold and wet with occasional snowstorms
Spring - generally mild and dry
Summer - warm and sunny with some "sizzlers"
Fall - windy, damp and changeable
Nickname: The Square Mile

Samuel Johnson, the most celebrated Englishman of the 18th century, once remarked, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." Those lucky enough to live in London in the 21st century would surely agree, for it is still one of the most vibrant, colorful, and fascinating cities in the world.

London has been the site of historic achievements, technological discoveries, and magical entertainments for over two millennia. It's where Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare produced his plays, Dickens penned his novels, and Reynolds, Turner, and Constable painted their masterpieces. It's where scientific innovators like Sir Isaac Newton, William Harvey, and Charles Darwin changed the world as they knew it. It's where monarchs have been crowned and sometimes beheaded. And it is the capital of a nation that has remained a world power for over one thousand years.

London was founded in 43 A.D. by the Romans during their first invasion of the British Isles. Through the centuries, despite famines, plagues, fires, invasions, and even a mini-ice age, the city's location on the Thames River made it ideal as a center of trade. In the 11th century, an Anglo-Saxon king, Edward the Confessor, built a royal-religious compound complete with cathedral-Westminster Abbey-within the city limits. This compound effectively established London as the center of government and religion in Great Britain.

Today, Westminster Abbey still heads the list of must-see tourist sites along with the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Parliament, the British Museum, Trafalgar Square, and St. Paul's Cathedral. The city's long history can be seen in its eclectic architecture, and, depending on where you are, walking down a London street can feel like a trip back to the Middle Ages, Tudor England, or the Regency period.

But London is so much more than historic buildings and monuments! A perfect example of the cutting-edge pulse of the city is also a wonderful way to get an overview of all its attractions: The London Eye. This incredible modern marvel, first opened in 1999, is the largest Ferris wheel in the world and gives you a spectacular view of the city and suburbs during a 30-minute revolution.

The city that was home to Shakespeare, Wilde, Shaw, Pinter and Osborne is still the ultimate place to enjoy the theatre. It also offers an incredible array of musical performances in clubs, symphony halls, and arenas.

If fashion is your thing, London designers hold their own with those in Paris and Milan for setting trends. And whatever your budget, the city is a shoppers' paradise from the avant-garde fashion boutiques on Carnaby Street to the vintage clothing stalls in Portobello Road. And its incredible diversity can also be seen-and savored-at hundreds of restaurants offering a choice of cuisine from around the world.

All in all, visitors to London will no doubt find that another Johnson quote still applies today, "By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show."
American InterContinental University Study Abroad Programs
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