Map of Rio Grande do Norte
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Area: 53,306 km2.
Only four Brazilian States are smaller than Rio Grande do Norte: Sergipe, Alagoas, Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo.
Rio Grande do Norte is bigger than Holland and Switzerland; it´s about half the size of Portugal; it´s twice as big as Maryland, and about half the size of Virginia.
Borders: to the west, with the State of Ceará; to the south, with the State of Paraíba; to the north and east, with the Atlantic Ocean. The coast is 410 km long.
The biggest city is Natal (pop. 709.536, year 2000), the capital. The second largest city is Moçoró (pop. 213.057, year 2000), near the border with Ceará; the city with the largest growth rate is Parnamirim (pop.124.700, year 200), in the metropolitan area of Natal. Other important cities are Ceará-Mirim, Caicó, Macaíba, Açu and Currais Novos (these were the only cities to have more than 40,000 habitants in 2000).
Most cities in the eastern coast are becoming touristic destinations. The average temperature is high, but, as the Earth rotates, the winds coming from the sea help relieve the heat. Genipabu is a beach of the municipality of Extremoz (not shown in the map), just north of Natal. Pipa is a beach of the municipality of Tibau do Sul (not shown in the map), about 60 km south of Natal (a little to the north of Canguaretama, in the map). See the section on beaches of Rio Grande do Norte for more info about the cities and beaches of the eastern coast.
The northern coast has high temperatures and very little rain. This favours the production of salt; the area around Areia Branca produces about 90% of the salt consumed in Brazil.
In the 1980s, petroleum was found in the western part of the State; Petrobrás has a large basis in Moçoró, and explores fields in the are which includes Apodi, Açu and the east of Ceará; a few off-shore fields were also found, and the oil extracted from sea wells is sent to Macau.
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