Mekelle formerly the capital of Enderta awraja in Tigray, is today the capital city of Tigray National Regional state. It is located around 780 kilometres (480 mi) north of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, with an elevation of 2,254 metres (7,395 ft) above sea level. Administratively, Mekelle is considered a Special Zone, which is divided into seven sub-cities. Mekelle is the economic, cultural, and political hub of northern Ethiopia. Mekelle has grown rapidly since 1991. In 1984 it had 61,583 inhabitants, in 1994, 96,938 (96.5% being Tigrinya-speakers), and in 2006 169,200 (i.e. 4% of the population of Tigray). Mekelle is 2.6 times larger than Adigrat, the second largest regional center, It is the fifth largest city in Ethiopia, after Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Adama, and Gondar. The largest proportion of the population of Mekelle depends on government employment, commerce and small-scale enterprises. Mekelle now has new engineering, cement and textile factories, producing for the local and foreign market. There is a rising university which developed out of the pre-1991 Arid Agricultural College, and about a dozen other governmental and private colleges. Mekelle is believed to have evolved from a 13th century hamlet called Enda Meseqel (later Enda Medhane Alem), becoming a town by the early 19th century, when rasWolde Selassie of Enderta made Antalo his seat of power, and the region of Mekelle (40 kilometres (25 mi) to the north) his recreational center). In the tax records of atse Tewodros II, Mekelle appears as a tributary district within Enderta with a negarit of its own. The credit for Mekelle's growth into a regional capital goes to atse Yohannes IV who made Mekelle political capital of his expanding state. He must have chose the place for its strategic proximity both to rich agricultural areas (of Raya Azebo) and to the Afar salt country. Mekelle's position on the route to Shewa, the power base of Yohannes's main rival Menelik could have been another factor. Three institutions still important for modern Mekelle were founded by Yohannes: The grand palace built in 1882-84 by his architect Giacomo Naretti, together with the engineer Engedashet Schimper and still forms the nucleus of Mekelle. The large market Edaga Senuy ("Monday Market") The church, at Debre Gennet Medhane Alem, built after the return from Raya Azebo campaign in 1871. In the 1880s, Mekelle became the Emperor's capital city. Among the factor that further accelerated Mekele's growth and urbanization were the establishment of residential quarters by the "nobility" and court servants, the prominence of the amole salt market and the subsequent establishment of local and foreign trading and occupational communities, and Mekelle'a strategic position as a transit center for commodities of the long-distance trade routes of north eastern Ethiopia, attached to the Red Sea ports, and to northern and central Ethiopia. By establishing a market in Mekelle, Yohannes could draw on the norther trade routes as well as the salt caravan routes to the town, capitalizing on his political leverage. The succession of atse Menelik II of Shewa signaled a trading reorientation from northern to southern Ethiopia (centered in Shewa). The new capital Addis Ababa quickly outstripped Mekelle, which, however, retained its political importance as the district and regional administration center of Enderta and Tigray respectively through the 20th century, and its economical role in the Ethiopian salt trade. During the Italian War of 1895-96, Mekelle became an important site in the conflict. After the fall of Adwa in spring 1895, rasMengasha Yohannes retreated from his father's capital Mekelle following the advice of atse Menelik II. Mekelle was occupied by the Italians without a shot and integrated into the Colonia Eritrea; from here the Italians extended their occupation south, up to Ambalage. The Italian army established their fort near the Enda Eyesus church above Mekelle in October 1895. After the re-occupation of Ambalage in late 1895, the fort was besieged by Ethiopian troops, who cut the Italians' water supply. When the Italians surrendered in January 1896, Menelik allowed them to retreat to their stronghold Adigrat, probably hoping to prevent an escalation of the conflict, and he appointed his own governor over Enderta at Mekelle, dejazmach Tedla Abaguben, in order to check the rebellious Tigrayan princes.Another Ethiopian marathoner has made headlines for crossing his hands above his head as he finished the race. Ebisa Ejigu crossed over his hands as he cross the finish line to emerge the winner of the Quebec City Marathon in Canada. The latest protest sign comes just a week after marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa won silver for Ethiopia at the Olympics in the same fashion. displayAdvert("mpu_3") Crossing arms is a sign of protest against Ethiopian government’s treatment of the Oromo people, the largest ethnic group in the Horn of Africa. The protests were sparked after the government began extending the municipal boundary of the country’s capital, threatening parts of Oromia and the people’s land rights. The protests began in a small town named Ginchi, approximately 80 kilometres outside of the capital. Both Lilesa and Ejigu are from Addis Ababa or the surrounding area. According to human right groups, security forces in the East African country have killed scores of people in recent weeks in a series of brutal anti-government crackdown.