Natal is the capital and largest city of the state Rio Grande do Norte, located in northeastern Brazil. According to IBGE's July 2014 report, the city had a total population of 862,044, while Greater Natal had 1,485,505 inhabitants.
The implementation of the Via Costeira (Coastal Highway), 10 km (6.2 miles) long avenue along the shore and the dunes, was the true starting point for the beginning of tourist activity in the State in the 1980s. The main hotels are concentrated along Via Costeira. Natal has several tourist attractions and is famous for its natural beauty (such as the crystalline waters of Maracajaú and the largest cashew tree in the world), for its historical monuments and buildings (e.g. Forte dos Reis Magos, the Alberto Maranhão Theatre and Newton Navarro Bridge), for its beaches (such as Ponta Negra, Pipa and Genipabu) and also for its off-season carnival, the Carnatal. The city also boasts the second largest urban park in Brazil, the Natal Dunes State Park.
It is the closest state capital of Brazil to Africa and Europe. The Greater Natal International Airport connects Natal with many Brazilian cities and also operates some international flights. The city was one of the host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.