In the Islamic tradition, the holiest city on earth, Mecca (also transliterated as Makkah) is situated in the present-day Saudi Arabian province of Hijaz about 70 kilometers east of the coastal city of Jeddah, about 280 meters above sea level. It is known in the Islamic tradition by a variety of names, each carrying its own connotation: Mecca, Bakkah, Umm al-Qura, al-Qaryah, al-Balad, alBalad al-Amin, and Ma'ad. There is reason to believe that Ptolemy's Macoraba is Mecca. Situated in a valley surrounded by bare hills and no vegetation, Mecca's climate is hot (with temperatures regularly reaching 45 degrees Celsius in summer), and there is little rainfall. Currently, the population of Mecca is 1.71 million, which skyrockets to several million during the annual hajj (pilgrimage) ...

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