Natal (English: Christmas) is both the capital and the largest city of the north-eastern region of Rio Grande do Norte, which is considered to have the purest air in the Americas according to NASA. The city of Natal covers 170 sqkm and contains over 800,000 inhabitants who experience a tropical climate, which inspired the nickname City of the Sun (Portuguese: Cidade do Sol).
Historically, Natal was established in 1599 on Christmas Day as a village outside the Three Wise Men fort, which was constructed by the Portuguese in honor of the Nativity. The economy of the city relied on the raising of livestock to be sold for either labor or food. It was only more recently that Natal's industries in salt, petroleum and tourism greatly expanded and helped the city to grow economically. It was also the World War II base for American soldiers fighting in northern Africa as a part of Operation Rainbow, due to its proximity to the area.
The tourist industry of Natal can owe its success to the city's beaches and relative safety. Another of its attractions are the events that it holds, such as when Natal was one of the host cities for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In addition, the city hosts one of the largest off-season carnivals in Brazil, called Carnatal.
The Sisterhood Agreement
Natal and Bethlehem were declared as sister cities 16 years ago in a gesture to strengthen the ties of friendship between the two cities. The Sisterhood Agreement was signed by the Mayor of Natal, Wilma de Faria and the Mayor of Bethlehem, Hanna Nasser.
When becoming sister cities, both cities had agreed to:
Broaden mutual knowledge especially concerning health, education, industry and commerce, agriculture and tourism
Encourage exchange of human resources through common interest programs to be identified and carried out as jointly agreed upon
Carry out surveys and research connected with the development of cooperation programs that are of interest to both cities
Stimulate the development of cooperation projects in areas of common interests, the fulfilment of which may be supported by external financing sources
The two Christmas cities continue this cooperation into the present day.