Elves (Scandinavian: alfar), are creatures deriving from Germanic/Norse legend. Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241) makes a distinction between the light-elves and the dark-elves. The formed dwelling in Alfheim (Elf-world) and described as "fairer than the sun in appearance". The latter described as chthonic entities. They dwelt in Svartalfaheim (World of the dark elves), and were "blacker than pitch". The descriptions given for dark elves tend to be similar or identical to dwarves. Making it likely that these were two terms for the same concept.
In later Germanic legend the distinction between elves and dwarfs remained unclear. For example the dwarf Alberich of the Nibelungenlied has a name literally meaning "elf-sovereign", or "King of the Elves". The elves were often considered as both nature spirits and mischievous tricksters.
In his literary works, Tolkien reinterpeted the elves as humanoid creatures who were biologically immortal, and had superior physical, spiritual, and magical abilities than mankind. This interpretation was popular enough to make them mainstays of modern fantasy, often depicted as a superhuman race.