The Nobel Prizes (Swedish: Nobelpriset) are annual international awards bestowed by several Scandanavian committees for cultural and scientific advances. The awards were established in 1895 by the Swedish chemist Alfred Bernhard Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. They were first awarded in 1901 for achievements in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace. An associated prize, the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, was instituted by Sveriges Riksbank in 1968 and first awarded in 1969. Although this is not technically a Nobel Prize, its winners are announced with the Nobel Prize recipients, and it is presented at the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony. The Nobel Prizes in the specific disciplines are widely regarded as the most prestigious award one can receive.
Each Nobel Prize recipient (laureate) is presented with a gold medal, a diploma, and a varying sum of money. The amount of money awarded each year is dependent upon the annual income of the Nobel Foundation; in 2009, the amount was 10 million SEK (c. US$1.4 million) per prize.
The prizes are awarded by different associations. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the Nobel Prize in Physics, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences; the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; and the Swedish Academy grants the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Nobel Peace Prize is not awarded by a Swedish organisation, but by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Critics of the Nobel Prize awarding bodies have included the failure to award the Peace Prize to Mahatma Gandhi and other high-profile candidates; the application of a strict rule against a prize being shared among more than three people; and the prohibition of posthumous awards which fails to recognise achievements by a collaborator who dies before the prize is awarded.