Tweet[makkat almukarrama, makka lmukarrama]) is a city in the Makkah province of Saudi Arabia. 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. 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.
Mecca is regarded as the holiest city in Islam. More than 13 million Muslims visit Mecca annually, including several million who perform the Hajj (pilgrimage). As a result, Mecca has become one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities in the Muslim world. Non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the city. Mecca and Medina and its surrounding outskirts are the only two places where the Quran was composed.
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