Mecca

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Mecca (pronounced /ˈmɛkə/), also spelled Makkah (occasionally Bakkah) (English: /ˈmækə/; Arabic: مكةMakkah and in full: Arabic: مكّة المكرمة‎ transliterated Makkat Al Mukarramah [mækːæt ælmukarːamæ]) is a city in Saudi Arabia, regarded as the holiest meeting site in Islam, closely followed by Medina.[2][3][4]

Islamic tradition attributes the beginning of Mecca to Ishmael's descendants. In the 7th century, the Islamic Prophet Muhammad proclaimed Islam in the city which was by then an important trading center. After 966, Mecca was led by local sharifs. When the authority of the Ottoman Empire in the area collapsed in 1916, the local rulers established the Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz.[5] The Hejaz kingdom, including Mecca, was absorbed by the Saudis in 1925. In its modern period, Mecca has seen tremendous expansion in size and infrastructure.

The modern day city is the capital of Saudi Arabia's Makkah Province, in the historic Hejaz region. With a population of 1.7 million (2008), the city is located 73 km (45 mi) inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of 277 m (909 ft) above sea level.

Every year, millions of Muslims perform the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca walking seven times around the Kaaba. More than 13 million people visit Mecca annually.[6]

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