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Rio Grande do Norte (lit. "Great River of the North", in reference to the mouth of the Potengi River, ) is one of the states of Brazilmarker, located in the northeastern part of the country, on the edge of the South American continent. Because of its geographic position, Rio Grande do Norte has a strategic importance. The capital and largest city is Natalmarker. It is the land of the folklorist Luís da Câmara Cascudo and, according to NASAmarker, it has the purest air in South America. Its 410 km (254 mi) of sand, much sun, coconut palms and lagoons are responsible for the fame of beaches. Is also part of its territory the islands of Rocas Atollmarker.

The main activity of the state economy is tourism, followed by the extraction of petroleum (the second largest producer in the country), agriculture, fruit growing and extraction of minerals and is the largest producer of salt in the country and among other economic activities.

The state is famous for having many popular attractions such as the Maior cajueiro do mundo (world's largest cashew tree), the dunes and the dromedaries of Genipabu, the famous beaches of Ponta Negra, Maracajaúmarker and Pipa's paradise, the Carnatal the largest off-season carnival in Brazil, the Forte dos Reis Magos is a medieval fortress, the hills and mountains of Martins, the Dunas Park the second largest urban park in the country, and several other attractions. The state also is closer to the archipelago of Fernando de Noronhamarker.


Rio Grande do Norte is dominated by its coastline. The state is famed for its beaches and sand dunes, and the air is, according to NASAmarker, the second-cleanest in the world after Antarcticamarker.

Aerial view of rainforest in the semi-arid.

Two climates predominate: humid tropical, in the oriental littoral, and semi-arid, in the remaining (most part) of the State (including the North coast).The rainforest which once covered most of Brazil's coast had its northern end in the south of Rio Grande do Norte; the area north of Natal, the capital, is under dunes, a kind of formation associated with semi-arid climate. The semi-arid climate is characterized not only by the low level but also the irregularity of rainfall; some years can go by with no or very little rain; most of the interior of the State is part of the Polygon of Droughts (an area which receives special attention from the federal government). There are also many mangroves in the state, and the interior is dominated by rainforest. Rocas Atollmarker in the Atlantic Oceanmarker, 260 km Northeast of Natalmarker, also belongs to the state of Rio Grande do Norte.


Natal Historic Center.
The first European to reach the region may have been the Spaniardmarker Alonso de Ojeda in 1499. The northeastern tip of South America, Cape São Roque, 20 miles to the north of Natal, was first officially 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. The Vespucci expedition also named the Potengi (Tupi-Guarani for "River of Shrimps") river, whose considerably large mouth contrasted with the nearby bodies of water, "Rio Grande" (Portuguese for "Great River"), after which the Captaincy, Province, and State were named. For decades thereafter, no permanent European settlement was established in the area, inhabited by the Potiguar tribe.
Natal's City Hall (Filipe Camarão Palace).
In the 16th century (between 1535 and 1598), it was explored by Frenchmarker pirates in search for brazilwood. In 1598, the Portuguesemarker built the Forte dos Reis Magos and, in the following year, founded the city of Natalmarker. Rasing cattle and sugarcane plantation lifted the local development and economy.

In 1633, the area became a battleground between the expansionist Portuguese, seeking to take more land for their Brazilian territories, and the Dutchmarker, who gained a foothold in South America.

After a short period of peace and prosperity in Olindamarker and Recifemarker, the sugar prices went down in the market of Amsterdam and the region entered into a serious economic crisis. The economic problems led the Portuguese settlers and native Brazilians to revolt against the Dutch in what is known today as the massacres of Cunhaú and Uruaçu.
The religious confrontations (the Portuguese-Brazilian Catholicism and the Dutch Calvinism), Portugal's restoration of the throne in 1640 and the reconquest of Maranhãomarker in 1643, lead the Portuguese-Brazilians to undertake the 1645 uprising, led by André Vidal de Negreiros and João Fernandes Vieira. The governor of Bahia promised new Portuguese troops, but most of the rebels were Africans and Amerindians. In 1654, the Dutch were finally cast out.

During World War II, Rio Grande do Norte was used as an Allied airbase from which to launch air raids on Germanmarker-occupied North Africa.

In 1964, Latin America's first space launch site was constructed in Rio Grande do Norte; Barreira do Inferno (Hell's Barrier), which was often referred to as the "Brazilian NASAmarker".


According to the IBGE of 2008, there were 3,092,000 people residing in the state. The population density was .

Urbanization: 72.4% (2006); Population growth: 1.6% (1991–2000); Houses: 832,000 (2006).

The last PNAD (National Research for Sample of Domiciles) census revealed the following numbers: 1,808,820 Pardo (Brown) people (58.5%), 1,147,132 White people (37.1%), 120,588 Black people (3.9%), 12,368 Asian or Amerindian people (0.4%).

Interesting facts

Vehicles: 468,289 (March/2007);Mobile phones: 1.6 million (April/2007); Telephones: 399 thousand (April/2007); Cities: 167 (2007).


The service sector is the largest component of GDP at 50.2%, followed by the industrial sector at 44.2%. Agriculture represents 5.6% of GDP (2004). Rio Grande do Norte exports: fish and crustacean 30.5%, fruits 19.3%, woven of cotton 12.3%, petroleum 10.8%, cashew 8.5%, sugar 5.3%, chocolate 3.9%, sea salt 3.7% (2002).

Share of the Brazilian economy: 0.9% (2004).

Historically, Rio Grande do Norte has relied upon sugar and cattle for its livelihood. However, since the 1980s, the state government has realised that tourism is a lucrative industry, and more money is being poured into the construction of tourist resorts, and restoring colonial buildings in major cities.

Fruit is also grown in Rio Grande do Norte, with the state supplying 70% of Brazil's melons, and the state is famed for its mango and cashew fields. The world's largest cashew tree is located in the state; it has a circumference of 500 centimetres and occupies an area of 7,300 cm², making it 70 times the size of average cashew trees. Rio Grande do Norte is also one of three Brazilian states that together produce the world's entire supply of carnauba wax.


Portuguese is the official national language, and thus the primary language taught in schools. But English and Spanish are part of the official high school curriculum.

Educational institutions

  • Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) (Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte);
  • Universidade Estadual do Rio Grande do Norte (UERN) (State University of Rio Grande do Norte);
  • Universidade Potiguar (UnP) (Potiguar University);
  • Universidade Federal Rural do Semi-Árido (Ufersa) (Rural Federal University of Semi-Arid);
  • Instituto Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (IFRN);
  • and many others.


Saint John's Day

Festa Junina was introduced to Northeastern Brazilmarker by the Portuguesemarker for whom St John's day (also celebrated as Midsummer Day in several European countries), on the 24th of June, is one of the oldest and most popular celebrations of the year. Differently, of course, from what happens on the European Midsummer Day, the festivities in Brazil do not take place during the summer solstice but during the tropical winter solstice. The festivities traditionally begin after the 12th of June, on the eve of St Anthony's day, and last until the 29th, which is Saint Peter's day. During these fifteen days, there are bonfires, fireworks, and folk dancing in the streets. Once exclusively a rural festival, today in Brazil it is largely an urban festival during which people joyfully and theatrically mimic peasant stereotypes and clichés in a spirit of jokes and good times. Typical refreshments and dishes are served. It should be noted that, like during Carnival, these festivities involve costume-wearing (in this case, peasant costumes), dancing, heavy drinking, and visual spectacles (fireworks display and folk dancing). Like what happens on Midsummer and St John's Day in Europe, bonfires are a central part of these festivities in Brazil.


International Airport

Located virtually at sea level (169 ft), with favorable weather and geographic conditions, Augusto Severo International Airportmarker in Parnamirim is 18 kilometers from Natal (RN). It takes its name from Augusto Severo de Albuquerque Maranhão, a native son of that state who died in an accident in France in 1902. The airport has a total area of 11.3 thousand square meters and capacity for 1.2 million passengers a year. The installations and passenger terminals are air conditioned with equipment that can put out 630 tons of cooled air. With an area of 5.5 million square meters, the airport complex operates with 16,482 square meters of passenger and cargo terminals and administrative and maintenance installations. There are 6,224 meters of runways and 61.5 square meters of apron space, providing connections from the greater Natalmarker region to the main centers of the world.The airport is the only one in the Northeast Region to receive charter flights from Scandinavia.


  • BR-101;
  • BR-104;
  • BR-110;
  • BR-226;
  • BR-304;
  • BR-405;
  • BR-406;
  • BR-427;
  • RN-117;
  • RN-401.


Entrance of the Port of Natal
The Port of Natal is specialized in cold storage cargo such as fruit, fish and shrimp, among others. It has its own customs facilities and is connected to Europe by direct navigation lines, mainly to the ports of Vigomarker, Rotterdammarker and Sheernessmarker, which allows great agility and reduced costs for the shipment of your products.Besides having a modern infrastructure, competitive prices and qualified professionals, the access to the management of the Port is easy, meaning less bureaucracy for your transactions.


Natalmarker, the capital of state, is one of 12 cities to host games of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which will be held in Brazilmarker.


The flag was adopted on December 3 1957. It is based on a design by Luis de Camara Cascudo. In the middle of the flag is the coat of arms of the state, which was adopted on July 1 1909. It shows a sailing boat at the coast in the middle, representing the fishing and salt industries. Above it is a bar which shows two flowers on the sides and two cotton bolls in the center. To the sides of the shield are a coconut palm to the right and a carnauba palm to the left, connected by two branches of sugar cane. The star above represents the state as part of Brazil.

Photo gallery

Image:Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brasil.jpg|Ponta Negra beachImage:Praia de Pipa.jpg|Pipa beachImage:Maior cajueiro do mundo 3.jpg|Maior cajueiro do mundoImage:Genipabu RN.jpg|GenipabuImage:Forte dos Reis Magos (Natal).JPG|Forte dos Reis MagosImage:Carnatal em Natal.jpg|CarnatalImage:Ponte Newton Navarro.jpg|Newton Navarro bridgemarkerImage:Maracajaú.jpg|MaracajaúmarkerImage:Morro do Careca Natal.jpg|Morro do CarecaImage:Casarão-Cascudo.JPG|Natal Historic CenterImage:Parque da Cidade do Natal.jpg|Natal City ParkImage:Cavalo Marinho no Aquário Natal.jpg|Natal AquariumImage:São Cristovão - Dunas do Rosado.jpg|Rosado multicolored dunesImage:Dunas de Ponta do Mel.jpg|Ponta do MelImage:Chuva de Bala no país de Mossoró.jpg|Mossoró Cidade JuninaImage:Praia de Diogo Lopes.jpg|Diogo Lopes beachImage:Lajedo de Soledade.jpg|Lajedo de SoledadeImage:Praia Ponta do Madeiro.jpg|Madeiro BeachImage:Pico-do-Cabugi.jpg|Pico do CabugimarkerImage:Jangada-Tibau.jpg|Emanoelas beachImage:Gargalheiras.jpg|GargalheirasImage:Castelo Di Bivar (Carnaúba dos Dantas-RN).JPG|Di Bivar CastleImage:Igreja patu.jpg|Igreja de PatuImage:Martins RN.jpg|Martins hills and mountains


  1. In Brazilian Portuguese. The European Portuguese pronunciation is .
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  12. Source: PNAD.
  13. Source: IBGE.

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