Is London a Country?

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

A lot of people ask, 'Is London a country?' The simple answer is a definitive no. London is not a country, it is the capital city of England and the United Kingdom.

The answer might be simple, but the question really isn't so simple.

There are lots of reasons why you might think that London could be a country. London's size, economy, wealth, politics and demographics all set it apart from the rest of the country.

And there are plenty of people, both inside London and outside, who would like it to be a country.


  • Major institutions based in London
  • Could London becomes a separate country?

London population relative to the rest of the UK

London population compared to other UK cities

Image credit: Eat Sleep London

Data: World Population Review

The 9 largest cities in the UK demonstrating how much bigger London is

London is by far the biggest city in the UK. Depending on what you include, London is around 8 times bigger than the next largest, which is Birmingham.

London population in 1377

Image credit: Eat Sleep London

Data: Wikipedia

The 10 largest cities in England in 1377

This population dominance of London isn't a temporary blip either. Back in 1377, a tax was levied where everyone over the age of 14 had to pay a 'groat' to the King Richard II. The extensive records from the tax give a pretty clear picture of the population at the time. You'll see from the chart that even 650 years ago, London was the biggest city in the country by a long way, having a population of close to 25,000 souls!

The size of London's economy

GDP per capital for regions in the UK

Image credit: Eat Sleep London

Data: ONS 2018

GDP per capita by UK region. London workers produce!

London is undeniably the powerhouse of the UK. In 2018, London generated £487 billion, around 23% of the total UK GDP.

Even more dramatic is the GDP per capita of Londoners. Londoners produce almost £55k in GDP for every man, woman and child. This is more than twice as much as many parts of the UK.

How do London demographics compared to the rest of the UK?

London demographics compared to the rest of the UK

Image credit: Eat Sleep London

Data: 2011 Census

London has a starkly different ethnic mix from other parts of the UK

We think of capital cities as melting pots, places where people from all over the world come together for work and study. If you are thinking of moving to a new country, the capital is often the starting point, and for many people, the stopping point. The big city offers anonymity and convenience that you just can't get in a small town.

And the data for London shows this effect extremely clearly. The data is from the 2011 Census. It shows that London is over 40% non-white. The next most diverse region is the West Midlands, with around 17% non-white.

The least ethnically mixed areas are the North East, South West and Wales, which are all less than 5% non-white.

The next census will be in 2021. There are no prizes for guessing whether London will be more mixed in 2021 than it was in 2011.

Major institutions based in London




If you think of the UK what springs to mind? What are the iconic symbols of the UK that stand out and have stood the test of time? This is a bit subjective, but for many people the list would include:

Millionaires in London vs the rest of the UK

London and South East number of millionaires compared to the rest of the UK

Image credit: Eat Sleep London

Data: Barclays UK Wealth Map (2011)

The proportion of millionaires by region in the UK

London and the South East contain a disproportionate amount of wealth compared to the other regions in the UK. You can see from the chart that according to a Barclays study, close to half of the millionaires in the country live in London and the South East.

In numbers, L&SE had 287,000 millionaires out of the total of 619,000 across the UK.

Of course it doesn't mean that everyone in London has a butler and drives a Bentley. Much of the wealth of the richest area is in the houses that they live in. Even a modest property in the right area of London can be worth more that £1,000,000.

What does the rest of the UK thinks of London?

If you ask Quora, 'What does the rest of the United Kingdom think of London?' you get lots of specific views from individuals and you can select any that suit your agenda, from those who love London to those who absolutely hate it. A quote from one of the latter is above.

The related questions perhaps give a more generic picture of people are looking for