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Rio Grande do Norte is a Brazilian state, located in the northeast of the country, occupying the northeasternmost tip of the South American continent. Because of its geographic position, Rio Grande do Norte has a strategic importance. The capital and largest city is Natal. It is the land of the folklorist Luís da Câmara Cascudo and, according to NASA, it has the purest air in the Americas. Its 410 kilometres of sand, much sun, coconut palms and lagoons are responsible for the fame of beaches. Rocas Atoll, the only such feature in the Atlantic Ocean, is part of the state. The main economic activity is tourism, followed by the extraction of petroleum (the second largest producer in the country), agriculture, fruit growing and extraction of minerals, including considerable production of seasalt, among other economic activities. The state is famous for having many popular attractions such as the Maior cajueiro do mundo (world's largest cashew tree), the dunes and the dromedaries of Genipabu, the famous beaches of Ponta Negra, Maracajaú and Pipa's paradise, the Carnatal the largest off-season carnival in Brazil, the Forte dos Reis Magos is a sixteenth-century fortress, the hills and mountains of Martins, the Dunas Park the second largest urban park in the country, and several other attractions. The state is also closest to the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.
Rio Grande do Norte is dominated by its coastline. The state is famed for its beaches and sand dunes, and the air is, according to NASA, the second-cleanest in the world after Antarctica. Two climates predominate: humid tropical, in the oriental littoral, and semi-arid, in the remaining (most part) of the State (including the North coast). The rainforest which once covered most of Brazil's coast had its northern end in the south of Rio Grande do Norte; the area north of Natal, the capital, is under dunes, a kind of formation associated with semi-arid climate. The semi-arid climate is characterized not only by the low level but also the irregularity of rainfall; some years can go by with no or very little rain; most of the interior of the State is part of the Polygon of Droughts (an area which receives special attention from the federal government). There are also many mangroves in the state, and the interior is dominated by rainforest. Rocas Atoll in the Atlantic Ocean, 260 kilometres Northeast of Natal, also belongs to the state of Rio Grande do Norte. It is contained in the fully protected Atol das Rocas Biological Reserve.
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The FIFA World Cup 2014 will be held in Brazil. It takes place from 12 June to 13 July 2014. It will be the second time that Brazil has hosted the competition, the previous being in 1950. The national teams of 32 countries will join the second biggest sports event in the world (after the Olympic Games). A total of 64 matches are to be played in twelve cities across Brazil, with the tournament beginning with a group stage. For the first time at a World Cup Finals, the matches will use goal-line technology. Twelve locations will be World Cup host cities: Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Cuiabá, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and São Paulo. They cover all the main regions of Brazil and create more evenly distributed hosting than the 1950 finals in Brazil provided, when matches were concentrated in the south-east and south. As a result the tournament will require significant long-distance travel for teams. Brazil opens the tournament against Croatia, played in Sao Paulo on the 12th of June, and the final will be played on the 13th of July in Rio de Janeiro.
Augusto Severo International Airport (NAT) offers many domestic and international flights. Destinations include Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Recife, Belo Horizonte, Campinas, Milan, Rome, Amsterdam, Sal (Cape Verde), Brasilia, Fortaleza, Recife, Salvador da Bahia, Lisbon, Porto Alegre and Fernando de Noronha.
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