Mermaids are creatures with the upper body of a beautiful woman and the lower body of a fish.
Mermaids (Homo sirenia) are frequently confused with sirens, but they are, in fact, totally different creatures.
Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, including the Near East, Europe, Africa and Asia. They can be benevolent, falling in love with humans, or evil, luring sailors to their deaths.
They are usually depicted as extremely beautiful, with long hair.
Mermaids and their variants show up independently in major cultures throughout the world, from China to Africa to Europe to the Caribbean.
The most famous story, The Little Mermaid, by Hans Christian Andersen, tells of the daughter of a sea king who fell in love with a human prince.
The mermaid goes to a sea witch and sells her tongue for a pair of legs. Despite being found on the beach by the prince, he marries another woman. In order to break her spell, the mermaid is instructed by the sea witch to kill the prince, but the mermaid can’t, because of her love for him.
She dies and is turned into sea foam.
Other stories include that of Suvannamaccha (literally, golden mermaid) a daughter of Ravana that appears in the Cambodian and Thai versions of the Ramayana. She is a mermaid princess who tries to spoil Hanuman's plans to build a bridge to Lanka but falls in love with him instead.