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Amarillo is the county seat of Potter County, Texas within the West Texas region. A portion of the city extends into Randall County. A July 1, 2004 census estimate placed the city's population at 180,791. The Amarillo metropolitan area, however, has an estimated population of 236,113 in four counties.

Amarillo's name probably derives from the nearby Amarillo Lake and Amarillo Creek, named in turn for the yellow soil along their banks and shores (Amarillo is the Spanish word for yellow, the color) or the yellow wildflowers that were plentiful during the spring and summer. The city once self-proclaimed as the "Helium Capital of the World" for having one of the United States' most productive helium fields. The city is also known as "The Yellow Rose of Texas" and most recently "Rotor City, USA" for its V-22 Osprey hybrid aircraft assembly plant.