Which is the smallest of these cities located in the United Kingdom: Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast or London? Most assuredly this is a trick question. Try not to over-think it. OK, now I can see all of our readers in the UK raising their hands, saying “pick me, I know, I know.” Of course you do, but let’s not spoil the surprise for everyone else.
The counter-intuitive answer is the City of London. I was taken aback when I stumbled across this little factoid by chance recently. Perhaps I’d simply overlooked it. Maybe I’m the last person to figure it out. Nonetheless I found it amusing and the little thing give me pleasure and put a smile on my face. I doesn’t take much to make me happy.
London? Really? There are more than seven million inhabitants of Greater London and more than twelve million in the larger metropolitan area. When I think of London, I think of this:
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That’s not wrong, but that’s Greater London, not the City of London, which is closer to this:
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Actually even that’s a bit of an overstatement because it’s difficult to show an irregularly-shaped object within a rectangular box. The City of London has a much better, interactive map of the true boundaries.
This area is sometimes called the Square Mile because of its approximate size. Well actually it’s 1.12 square miles or 2.90 square kilometres if you want a more exact figure, but that doesn’t sound as good as the Square Mile. From this spot arose the original London in the Middle Ages.
Towns sprung up around its walls and continued to spread and fill until the City of London remained just a tiny speck in a massive megalopolis. Nonetheless the City retains its independence and its size, and is now the smallest ceremonial county by area and population anywhere in England.
It’s a truly odd situation. Less than ten thousand people live here but more than three hundred thousand work here. The City of London Corporation serves as its governing body. The majority of voters aren’t even residents, rather they represent businesses or other entities that operate within its confines based upon various formulas.
And now you know.
This entry is a special tip-of-the-hat to my London-based readers. There are several of you, judging by the maps I see in my Google Analytics account. Welcome!