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Seaport and city (pop., 2002 est.: 734,500), northeastern Brazil. It is situated near the mouth of the Potengi River on the Atlantic Ocean coast. Founded by the Portuguese in 1597 near the site of a fort, Natal was given town status in 1611. It is the capital and principal commercial centre of the state of Rio Grande do Norte; it is also a busy port and naval base. It is the seat of the State University of Rio Grande do Norte. The Marine Research Institute and the Barreira do Inferno rocket base are located in the vicinity.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Natal, visit Britannica.com.