Statsraad Lehmkuhl visits Natal, Brazil, February 17-20 2023
If you imagine South America as a face seen from the side, Natal is at the very tip of the nose. The city is the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Norte, in northeastern Brazil.
Natal is located at the mouth of the river Rio Potengi, and has close to 900,000 inhabitants.
Archaeological finds indicate that people lived here 2,900 years ago, and it is estimated that over a million people had their homes along the coast of Brazil before the Europeans arrived.
In 1494, two years after Columbus arrived in America, Spain and Portugal signed the Treaty of Tordesillas. They drew a line 1,770 km west of the Cape Verde Islands. Everything west of the line was to belong to Spain, everything east of the line to Portugal.
This is how Brazil became Portuguese, and remained a Portuguese colony until 1815, when the country became part of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarve. Seven years later, Brazil became independent. The language is still Portuguese and not Spanish, as in the rest of South America.
The Portuguese did not come to Brazil until 1500, and arrived in Natal the following year. The first Europeans did not settle in the area until the end of the 16th century. In 1598 a fort was built, and the following year the town was founded.
Natal means "Christmas" in Portuguese, so it is perhaps not surprising that the city was founded on Christmas Day.
To the west of Natal there are rich pastures, and for many years the city was a center for processing of meat and leather. In this century, salt mining, fishing and oil production have been important economic sectors.
During the Second World War the city was an important base for Allied forces in North Africa.
Today, most people make a living from tourism, some of Brazil's finest beaches are located here.
The climate in Natal is tropical, hot and humid. The temperature varies between 20 and 30 degrees all year round. The city receives more than twice as much rainfall as Oslo, 1691 mm annually, most of it between March and July.
Normal maximum temperature in February: 30.7℃
Normal rainfall in February: 100 mm