15 astonishing facts about London to make you proud of being a Londoner

Londoners - you live longer than other Brits, one in three of you are foreign-born, and you live alongside the world’s most popular art gallery. Rejuvenated? You will be…

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Dan J Austin photography, London construction

Source: Dan J Austin

1. Fourteen-and-a-half million tourists visited London in 2010, ranking London the most visited of all European cities (yeah Paris, you can keep your Eiffel Tower). London came third internationally, this isn’t as good as it could have been though, in 2009 London won the top spot.

2. There’s a lot of staying and leaving London too: 1.3 million people are estimated to move into and out of London each year.

3. St Paul’s Cathedral makes an iconic silhouette on London’s skyline. So iconic in fact, there are strict planning regulations in place to ensure certain views of the Cathedral aren’t obscured by other buildings. This is partly why skyscrapers such as the Gherkin, the Shard, the Cheesegrater and the Walkie Talkie are oddly shaped - and why they’re slowly colonising London’s skyline.

4. Londoners live longer than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK. London men live 77.9 years and London women live and average 82.4 years. That’s, respectively, two months and six months longer than your average UK men and women - every moment counts, eh. Kensington and Chelsea-ites are the longest-living of all Londoners: Sloaney men live a whopping 83.7 years, while the area’s pashmina-clad women last 87.8 years.

5. Next time the tubes are running late, remember the London Underground is the oldest running subway in the world (any consolation?). It was also the longest network in the world by a few kilometres for some time, but in 2010 the Shanghai metro overtook it.

6. There are more American banks in London than in New York. Not so surprising when you remember London is the financial capital of the world, but still pretty impressive.

7. Arguably more impressive still, our capital boasts 4,500 pubs and bars - making it pretty much inexcusable to not go out for a beer tonight.

8. If you need any more encouragement, then complete the Circle Line pub crawl. This is the age old tradition where crawlers (aka madmen), travel on the Circle Line and stop at each of the (original) 27 stations to go for a drink at a nearby pub. Halves over pints are recommended.

9. More than 300 languages are spoken in London, and that’s not including street slang, blud. More languages are spoken in London than any other city in the world.

10. Proof that you can find anything and anyone in London, according to the Office for National Statistics - one in three Londoners are foreign-born, making the city one of the most cosmopolitan in the world.

11. London’s main airport Heathrow is the busiest airport in the world, with more international passengers than any other.

12. Seventeen per cent of the 32,000 music performances that take place in London each year are free.

13. Despite being only 12 years old, the Tate Modern is the most popular modern art gallery in the world – with 4.7 million visitors a year. The former power station that houses it was designed by the same architect as Battersea Power Station.

14.  And we don’t just lead on art either. London has 900 bookshops, twice as many bookshops as New York.

Read our feature on London’s best bookshops

15. There is a Nazi dog called Giro buried at the top of the steps beside the ICA, just opposite St James Park, i.e., a dog that belonged to a Nazi general.

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