Wenatchee (/wɛˈnætʃiː/ wen-ATCH-ee) is a city located in north-central Washington and is the largest city and county seat of Chelan County, Washington, United States. The population within the city limits in 2010 was 31,925. In 2014, the Office of Financial Management estimated the population at 33,070. Located at the confluence of the Columbia and Wenatchee rivers near the eastern foothills of the Cascade Range, Wenatchee lies on the western side of the Columbia River, across from the city of East Wenatchee. The Columbia River forms the boundary between Chelan and Douglas County. Wenatchee is the principal city of the Wenatchee–East Wenatchee, Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Chelan and Douglas counties (total population around 110,884). However, the "Wenatchee Valley Area" generally refers to the land between Rocky Reach and Rock Island Dam on both banks of the Columbia, which includes East Wenatchee, Rock Island, and Malaga.
The city was named for the nearby Wenatchi Indian tribe. The name is a Sahaptin word that means "river which comes [or whose source is] from canyons" or "robe of the rainbow". Awenatchela means "people at the source [of a river]". The city of Wenatchee shares its name with the Wenatchee River, Lake Wenatchee and the Wenatchee National Forest.
Wenatchee is referred to as the "Apple Capital of the World" due to the valley's many orchards. The city is also sometimes referred to as the "Buckle of the Power Belt of the Great Northwest". The "Power Belt of the Great Northwest" is a metaphor for the series of hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River. Rock Island Dam is located nearest to the middle of this "belt", and so was labeled the "Buckle". This saying is printed at the top of every issue of Wenatchee's newspaper, the Wenatchee World, but is no longer in common use elsewhere.
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