Rio Grande do Norte
Information and Tourism
Until relatively recently, Rio Grande do Norte was virtually unknown to foreign visitors. All that is changing, with the state's many attractions catching on fast. Here, you can breathe in the cleanest air on the American continent, or samba along to the sounds of its famous carnivals. Perched on the most north-easterly tip of Brazil, Rio Grande de Norte is packed full of tourist attractions, from medieval fortresses to natural monuments.
When 17th-century sailors came across the coastline of Rio Grande do Norte, the first thing they probably saw was the Forte dos Reis Mago, an impressive fortress built by the Portuguese shortly before they founded what is today the state capital of Natal.
The first impression that today's tourists get of Natal is more likely to be one of its legendary beaches. They include Ponta Negra, with its iconic sandy dunes. Likewise, nearby Pipa Beach, once a small fishing village, has been transformed into a backpackers' and surfers' paradise. Tourists clamber onto the back of Genipabu's famous dromedaries to explore its picture-postcard dunes and admire the crystal-clear waters of the lagoons here.
Opportunities to don fancy costumes and take in the sheer spectacle of partying folk and fireworks are plentiful. Every December, Natal's streets echo to the sounds of the out-of-season Carnatal, with its 'trio elétrico' trucks. The Saint John's Day festivities are just as popular.
Venture inland from Natal and the landscape soon turns into something quite different and much more dramatic. The Vale dos Dinossauros, near the city of Sousa, and Lajedo de Pai Mateus offer a glimpse into the state's fascinating past.
The world's largest cashew tree can be spotted in Rio Grande do Norte. Over 1,000 years old, the North Pirangi landmark is reputed to cover the area normally occupied by 70 average-sized cashew trees.
Rio Grande do Norte Information and Fast Facts
- Country: Brazil
- Main administrative centre: Natal
- Biggest city: Natal
- Population: approximately 3.3 million
- Language: Portuguese
- Area: 20,390 square miles / 52,810 square kilometres
State Map of Rio Grande do Norte