Natal, Brazil

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Via Costeira, Natal.

Natal is a city located in Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 712,317.



Natal is located at Template:Coor dm, in the far northeast of South America. The city has a total area of 170 km². Natal lies on the Atlantic Ocean, by the mouth of the Potengi river.


The northeastern tip of South America, cape Sao Roque, 20 miles to the north of Natal, was first visited by European navigators in 1501, in the 1501-1502 Portuguese expedition led by Amerigo Vespucci, who named the spot after the saint of the day. For decades thereafter, no permanent European settlement was established in the area, inhabited by the Potiguar tribe.

In 1597, after some years during which French pirates, led by Jacques Riffault, established regular commercial activities with the native population, the ninth Portuguese Governor-General of Brazil, Francisco de Sousa, ordered the expulsion of the buccaneers. The successful expedition was led by the Captain-Major of the Captaincy of Pernambuco, Manuel de Mascarenhas Homem, with the assistance of Jerônimo de Albuquerque Maranhão.

Albuquerque Maranhão began on January 6, 1598 the construction of the Fort of the Holy Kings or of the Magi-Kings ("Forte dos Santos Reis" or "Forte dos Reis Magos"), named after the Three Wise Men, honored in the Christian feast of the Epiphany, celebrated on that day.

Missing image
The Prefeitura (city hall).

On December 25, 1599, Natal (whose name means Nativity or Christmas in Portuguese) was established as a village outside the fort.

The sandy soil of Natal prevented the city from becoming a producer of sugarcane, during the colonial times. Also, most of the State of Rio Grande do Norte is in the so called Polygon of Drought, where raining is scarce and irregular. For centuries, the economy of the State was based on the raising of cattle in the dry interior lands; the cattle was sent alive to the larger centers, to be used as traction, or was turned into jerked beef, to be used as food; the most typical food of Natal, "carne de sol" (sun meat), has origins in that jerked beef.

Last century, Natal benefited from the growth of the industries of salt (the north of Rio Grande do Norte is the largest producer in Brazil) and petroleum (the largest inland Brazilian reserves are in the State). Natal grew quickly, but in a somewhat planned way (compared to other major Brazilian cities); transit flows smoothly, public services are well distributed, ecologic conscience is visible; violence levels are low. Tourists (first Brazilians, more recently foreigners) discovered the city, which became one of the major tourist destinations in Brazil.

Because of its strategic position (Natal is one of the cities in Brazil nearest to Africa and Europe), an American military base was built in the outskirts of Natal during the World War II years; this base provided support for allied troops combating in the north of Africa. Thousands of American soldiers were sent to Natal, and their presence left traces in the culture of the city.


Tourism is the major industry of Natal. It is also a relevant administrative center for the oil industry (Rio Grande do Norte being the second largest oil-producing state in Brazil).

Rocket launch site Centro de Lancamento de Foguetes Barreira do Inferno

At Template:Coor dm there is since 1965 a launch site for sounding rockets, called Centro de Lancamento de Foguetes Barreira do Inferno, from which regulary rockets of the types Nike-Cajun, Sonda, Black Brant, Super Loki, etc. are launched. In opposite to Alcantara it is just a site for launching uborbital rockets. It is after announcemnt perhaps possible to visit this site.

External links

Template:Commonsde:Natal (Brasilien) nl:Natal, Brazilië no:Natal, Brasil pt:Natal (Rio Grande do Norte) fr:Natal (Brésil)


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