Rio Grande Do Norte, a maritime province of Brazil, bounded N. and E. by the Atlantic, S. by Parahyba, and W. by Ceará; area about 18,000 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, about 230,000, of whom about 13,500 were slaves. The coast is bordered by a chain of dangerous reefs and shoals, and the only good port is that of Natal, an irregular bay commonly called Rio Grande. Two watersheds running N. and S. divide the province into three almost equal parts, and give rise to many streams. The only important river is the Piranhas, which rises in Parahyba, passes through the middle of the province, and empties through five mouths, forming a large delta. It is navigable for 25 m., as far as the town of Assú, on the left bank. The Apody, passing through the western part, is navigable by canoes. Branches of the Borborema mountains extend into the province. The surface is sandy near the sea, and arid in the interior, except on the high lands and bordering the rivers, where there are extensive pastures and some forests. Gold, silver, and iron are found in small quantities, amianthus, limestone, crystals, and salt exist, and sulphur is met with. Good timber is abundant; gums, resins, balsams, Brazil wood, medicinal roots, wild honey, cochineal, and wax are among the natural productions.
The carnahuba palm is extensively cultivated for a great variety of uses. Many tropical fruits abound; sugar, cotton, mandi-oca, rice, beans, and tobacco are cultivated. The native animals are few, the reptiles numerous, many of them venomous. Large herds of cattle are raised. Sea salt is extensively extracted along the N. coast. The climate is very warm, dry, and unhealthy, severe droughts being frequent in the interior. The province is divided into eight districts. There are 62 public primary schools (41 for boys, 21 for girls), with an average daily attendance of 2,622, five secondary schools, and three private schools. The foreign exports of the province in 1873 were: cotton, $385,344; sugar, $165,552; hides, $13,324; timber, $135. The chief towns are Natal, the capital, Imperatriz, Assú, and Macaú.