Natal is the capital and largest city of Rio Grande do Norte, a northeastern state in Brazil. As of the IBGE July 2009, the city had a total population of 806,203 (1,263,547 in its Greater Natal). Natal is considered by IPEA (Institute of Applied Economic Research of Brazil), the safest capital city in the country. The implementation of the Via Costeira (Coastal Highway), 10 km (5.5 mi) long avenue along the shore and the dunes, was the true starting point for the beginning of tourist activity in the State in the 1980s. That is where the main hotels of the capital city, Natal, are concentrated.