A race of proud warriors, the Elvaan are the founders of two legendary orders of knights in the nation of San d'Oria. Physically, they are characterized by their tall, slender bodies and pointed ears. Their unshakable pride and faith in their beliefs is visible in each of their determined faces. Both males and females of the race excel in swordsmanship. Most Elvaan seem to eschew the business world, preferring an austere lifestyle as skilled sword fighters.
The Elvaan are renowned for establishing a strict and powerful military originally divided into three sects. The Temple Knights, from which came the job Paladin, value honor and a deep, unshakable faith. The Royal Knights, on the other hand, are more secular and are involved in more missions outside the Kingdom. The third arm, the Dragon Knights, were along the lines of personal Knights to the King. The Dragoon job draws inspiration from the Dragon Knights, which no longer exist.
This race has excellent hearing, second only to that of the Mithra. Elvaan are physically the most powerful of the 5 races and the second most physically durable. They are known for being stuffy; that is, having class, and honoring a noble life. They can be quite rude to the people they look down upon and can seem rather snooty.
The word "Elvaan" is most likely just a variant on the plural for the word "Elf" -- a word (and all related words) that is said to derive from the same Indo-European root albh as the Latin albus (meaning white). Unlike most Elves in most western (MMO)RPGs, the Elvaan from FFXI resemble more closely the ones from Norse mythology than the Tolkien archetype.
In the game's creation myth, the goddess Altana weeps over the destruction of the ancient Zilart race. Her tears clean away the wreckage and give rise to the five enlightened races. The god Promathia, disliking the existence of the new races, bring out their worst emotions. The Elvaan were cursed with arrogance.
The Elvaan reached the height of their influence after the Age of Magic, wherein the Tarutaru monopolized the practice of magic. After the secrets of magic usage available to the other races, even the beastmen, the Elvaan developed powerful orders of knights. Elvaan influence expanded, until they went at war with Bastok and Windurst. Windurst allied with their enemies, the Yagudo, who were displaced by Elvaan imperialism. Bastok, with Hume ingenuity, invented firearms that gave them an advantage. The Elvaan's defeat at the Battle of the Second Konschtat marked the end of this era, called the Age of Power.