NATAL, a city and port of Brazil and capital of the state of Rio Grande do Norte, on the right bank of the Rio Potengy, or Rio Grande do Norte, about 2 m. above its mouth. Pop. of the municipality (1890) 13,725. Natal is the starting-point of the Natal and Nova Cruz railway, and is a port of call for coastwise steamers, which usually anchor outside the bar. It is a stagnant, poorly built town of one-storeyed houses and mudwalled cabins, with few public edifices and business houses of a better type. The only industry of note is the manufacture of cotton. The exports are chiefly sugar and cotton. Natal was founded in 1597 as a military post to check an illicit trade in Brazil-wood. In 1633 it was occupied by the Dutch, who remained until 1654. It became the capital of a province in 1820. In early works it is sometimes termed Cidade dos Reis (City of the Kings).
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