4th ICCA Latin America Meeting & 9th Client/Supplier Business Workshop
 
Natal


 

“Natal” means Christmas in Portuguese. The city was baptized as such given that is was founded on 25 December 1599 by the Portuguese. Since then, the city has also been occupied by the French and the Dutch. Today, over four centuries later, the capital city of the State of Rio Grande do Norte has a population of close to 800,000 inhabitants.

Located 31 meters (102 ft) above sea level, Natal boasts many beautiful beaches, is surrounded by sand dunes, and is blessed with 300 sunshine days a year. For these reasons, the city has been nicknamed both the "City of Sun" and the “City of Dunes”. The city’s water is one of the cleanest in Brazil and, according to NASA, Natal has the purest air in the Americas. Natal is one of the most visited tourist poles in Brazil. Here, the sun shines close to 10 hours a day and soft sea breezes offset the extreme heat, thus offering a steady climate, ranging between 22ºC (71ºF) and 35ºC (95ºF) year-round. Natal is also known as the "City of the Dunes" for hosting the Dunes Park, an 8 kilometers long and 1,8 kilometer wide stretch of preserved Atlantic Forest. During World War II, Natal served as a rocket launch base for Americans. For this reason, Natal has also been called the "Space Capital of Brazil".

Natal is home to many beautiful beaches which can be appreciated year-round, given the city’s favorable climate. Its southern coast is comprised of 15 beaches and the northern coast has 20 beaches, all to be enjoyed and admired for their wonderful sights and unique charm.

Natal, the “Sunshine City”, the “Land of Shrimp”, “the cradle of forró”, receives over 2 million tourists, both Brazilian and foreign, throughout the year. Visitors are amazed at the more than 400 km of Atlantic Cost, which can be appreciated either by foot or on an exciting Buggy excursion over the dunes, along the coast and past the lagoons. Natal is a sought after destination for events tourism within Brazil’s northeast region, given the city’s favorable infrastructure, beautiful scenery, accessibility, hotel offering, safety rating, culinary, hospitable population, and cultural and tourist activities. With respect to the hotel offering, Natal counts on a hotel network of over 26,000 beds ranging from 5-star resorts to simpler inns (pousadas).

A bit of history

At the northeastern tip of South America is Cabo São Roque, located 32 km (20 miles) north of Natal and the closest point to Europe from Latin America. This is where the European navigators first visited in 1501. The Portuguese-led expedition was led by Americo Vespucci between 1501 and 1502, who named the site after the saint of the day. No permanent European settlement was established in the area until decades later. Prior to which, the area was inhabited by Potiguar tribes.

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 against 50 Frenchmen and their Indian allies was led by Captain-Major of the Captaincy of Pernambuco, Manuel de Mascarenhas Homem, with the assistance of Jerônimo de Albuquerque Maranhão.

On 6 January 1598, Albuquerque Maranhão began construction of the Fortress 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.

On 25 December 1599 Natal was established as a village outside the fortress. The fort, city, and surrounding areas were occupied by Dutch forces between 1633 and 1654. They rechristened the fort "Fort Ceulen" after one of their commanders.

Because of its strategic positionduring World War II an American air base was built in a neighboring municipality of Natal, Parnamirim, as part of the so-called Operation Rainbow. This base provided support for allied troops fighting in Northern Africa. Thousands of American soldiers were sent to Natal, and traces of their presence have been ingrained in the city’s culture.

Weather

The weather in the city of Natal is predominately tropical weather. Annual temperatures range between 25°C to 34ºC.