The contemporary Lenca are descendants of South American Chibchan peoples who migrated to El Salvador and Honduras during the eleventh century. They live in the forests of the volcanic mountains of western Honduras, predominantly in the departments of Intibucá, La Paz, and Lempira. A smaller number of Lenca Indians live in eastern El Salvador. Present estimates of the Lenca population vary from 50,000 to 95,000. They currently occupy about 10,000 square kilometers.
It is almost impossible to locate speakers of the Lenca language, which is generally considered to be extinct. Adding to the ambiguity surrounding the Lenca language is that it has eluded clear linguistic classification. Scholars disagree about whether it is more closely related to the Macro-Chibchan Family or the Macro-Mayan Family.