The Ch'orti' people (alternatively, Ch'orti' Maya or Chorti) are one of the indigenous Maya peoples, who primarily reside in communities and towns of southeastern Guatemala, northwestern Honduras, and northern El Salvador. Their indigenous language, also known as Ch'orti', is a survival of Classic Choltian, the language of the inscriptions in Copan. It is the first language of approximately 15,000 people, although the majority of present-day Ch'orti' speakers are bilingual in Spanish as well.


Brenda Suyapa Pineda representing the Chortis of Honduras at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras.

The Ch'orti' area, which had Copán as its cultural center, was the headquarters of the ancient Mayan civilization. The Ch'orti' people, led by the Mayan chief Copán Galel (es), strongly but unsuccessfully resisted the Spanish conquerors.

The Ch'orti' belong to the Meridional Mayans, and are closely related to the Mayans in Yucatán, Belize and Northern Guatemala. They are also somewhat related to the Choles, Mayans who currently live in Chiapas.

Geographical Location

Map of El Salvador's Native American civilizations and their kingdoms:
  Kingdom of the Lenca people
  Kingdom of the Cacaopera people
  Kingdom of the Xinca people
  Kingdom Maya Poqomam people
  Kingdom of Maya Ch'orti' people
  Kingdom of the Alaguilac people
  Kingdom of the Mixe people
  Kingdom of the Mangue language
  Kingdom of the Pipil people

Historically, the Ch'orti Mayans were located in the Ocotepeque and Copan departments, as well as in the northern strip of the Cortes and Santa Barbara departments. This geographical area possibly also extended to El Salvador on the south, to Chiquimula on the west, and to the Golfo Dulce to the north. Currently, the majority of the Ch'orti are located in Guatemala (in Chiquimula, Jocotan, Esquipulas, Quezaltenango and La Union).

The current Guatemalan Ch'orti' population estimate is 46,833.

The Ch'orti' population in Honduras live in areas of difficult access in the Copan and Ocotepeque departments, like Chonco, Colon Jubuco, San Rafael, Tapescos, Carrizalon, La Laguna, Santa Rita, Antigua Ocotepeque, Nueva Ocotepeque, and Sensenti.

The current Honduran Ch'orti' population estimate is 4,200. They are mostly farmers, and they lived in areas mixed with mestizos.

Organization and Culture

The Ch'ortis in Copan speak Spanish; most Ch'orti speakers are in Guatemala. This is because the political division between Honduras and Guatemala, and the inherent movement restriction between the two countries.

However, the traditional customs of dress have been kept, as well as musical traditions, expressed using instruments like teponangas, drums, whistles, chinchins, sonajas and horns. The most traditional dance is called the "dance of the giants".

Their food is based mainly on corn and beans. Corn is prepared in different ways: as a drink, like chilate, pozol, sweet atole, and sour atole (chuco), tortillas, tamales, totoposte and also alcoholic drinks like chicha.

Ch'ortis religion is based on admiring and adoring nature, through rituals dedicated to the gods of the Earth and the Wind.

Notable people


  1. ^ "XI Censo Nacional de Población y VI de Habitación (Censo 2002) - Pertenencia de grupo étnico". Instituto Nacional de Estadística. 2002. Archived from the original on 12 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  2. ^ "Languages of Honduras". Ethnologue. 1997. Retrieved 2008-06-01.