The Lenca, the largest indigenous group (numbering about 50,000), live in the west and in the southwestern interior. Some anthropologists argue that the Lenca still practice some traditional customs and that they are the survivors of a once extensive indigenous population that lived in the departments of Lempira, Intibucá, La Paz, Valle, Comayagua, and Francisco Morazán. Controversy has arisen, however, regarding the identification of this community as indigenous because their native language is no longer spoken and their culture is to a large extent similar to the ladino majority.
Other smaller indigenous groups are scattered throughout Honduras. Several hundred Chortí, a lowland Maya community, formerly lived in the departments of Copán and Ocotepeque in western Honduras. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Chortí migrated to the northeast coastal area, and by the early 1990s, they were practically extinct. The Chorotega migrated south from Mexico in pre-Columbian times and settled in the department of Choluteca. Like the Chortí, the Chorotega speak Spanish, but they retain distinct cultural and religious traits. A population of Maya live in the western departments of Copán and Ocotepeque and still speak a Mayan dialect. Several hundred Pipil live mainly in the isolated northeast coastal region in the departments of Gracias a Dios and parts of Yoro and Olancho. About 300 Tol or Hicaque are found in an isolated mountainous area of rain forests.
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