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The main article can be found at Minecraft Wiki: Difficulty.
Difficulty is a setting integrated in vanilla Minecraft that affects the game's difficulty in some way, mostly by slightly tweaking hostile mobs' stats or abilities. There are five difficulty settings integrated in vanilla Minecraft: Peaceful, Easy, Normal, Hard, and Hardcore. There are currently no mods that add any other difficulty levels.
This difficulty is very different and much easier than all others in multiple ways. Most importantly it completely disables the spawning of hostile mobs, and any already present in the world will instantly despawn. The only exception to this is the Ender Dragon. Players will also regenerate health at a rate of about half a heart per second, in addition to natural hunger regeneration. The hunger meter will also never drop, however unlike the health it will not regenerate if drained by other means.
Because of the removal of hostile mobs on this level, many mob drops are unobtainable or very rare in vanilla Minecraft. There are however many FTB mods that add alternative methods of obtaining these items, such as the Peaceful Table from Extra Utilities.
Easy, Normal, Hard
These three difficulty levels have only small differences, mostly regarding hostile mobs' damage stats, which will gradually become higher from Easy to Hard. Certain mobs also gain additional abilities on higher difficulties, for example Zombies can break Wooden Doors on Normal or higher.
This level of difficulty is exclusive to worlds in Hardcore mode and may not be selected normally via the Difficulty option. It is also the only difficulty available for Hardcore worlds. Although gameplay-wise identical to Hard, it causes the health bar's hearts to have a slightly different look. Most importantly players also only have one life - when they die, they must either delete their world in singleplayer or permanently get banned in multiplayer.