Lonely Planet Writer

London officially the largest city in Europe with a population of 8.6 million

London is now officially the biggest city in Europe with its population having grown to 8.6 million people. This is the greatest number of city dwellers since before the war in 1939, according to the Greater London Authority.

London now Europe's largest city
London now Europe’s largest city Image by Paul Tridon / CC BY 2.0

And the continued growth will see the English capital rise to 11 million by 2050, says Mayor Boris Johnson, who described London as “the best big city on the planet.”

However he warned that more financial control would be necessary so that housing could be properly funded.

The BBC reports that 44% of the population is now made up of people from black or ethnic origins while the Hillingdon area of the city recorded the greatest rise in population. As a borough, it has jumped from 159,000 residents in 1939 to just under 290,000 this year.

At the other end of the scale, Islington has been the centre of the largest reduction, slipping from 343,000 residents in 1939 to 221,000 this year.

University College London Prof. Michael Batty said a substantial part of the growth over the last decade was due to international migration. That growth, however, was also dependent on what happens in the rest or the world, he added.

The Mayor has pointed out that due to the increase in numbers in the city, there was greater a transport requirement and he highlighted the fact that train and tube services would have to be extended, while there would also be an increased demand for schools and colleges and recreational areas.