Natal is the largest port city and capital of Rio Grande do Norte state (northeastern Brazil), with population around 860,000 (metro around 1,5 million). Natal City covers an area of 170 km2 (66 ml2). The port is on the Atlantic Ocean, at the mouth of Rio Potengi (Potenji).
Building the Coastal Highway (Via Costeira), approx 10 km (6 ml) warwefront promenade along Natal's coast was the starting point for the tourism industry in Rio Grande State in the 1980s. This is a coastal area where all major hotels and beaches are concentrated.
Best tourist attractions are the crystalline waters of Maracajau Beach, world's largest cashew tree, historical buildings, monuments (Newton Navarro bridge, Forte dos Reis Magos, Alberto Maranhao Theatre), world famous beaches (Ponta Negra, Pipa, Genipabu), off-season carnival (Carnatal). Parque das Dunas.
Tourism is city's largest industry, attracting Europeans (mainly from UK, Scandinavia, Iberia, Germany, Italy, France), as well as Brazilians and North Americans. The city is served by Greater Natal International Airport with many regularly scheduled domestic and international flights.
Commercial fishing industry (exporting mainly to Japan) and agriculture (guavas, mangos, cashews) are very well developed. Wolrd's largest cashew tree is south of city center. Its circumference is 500 m (1640 ft) and occupies an area of 7300 m2 (78580 ft2), or approx 70 times the size average cashew trees. Carnatal carnival (in November or December) is held on the streets around Machadao Stadium.
Port Natal specializes in cold storage and export cargo (fruits, shrimp, fish). The seaport has its own Customs facilities and connects to Europe via direct marine shipping lines, mainly to Rotterdam (Holland), Sheerness (England) and Vigo (Spain).