The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in a number of categories by Swedish and Norwegian committees in recognition of academic, cultural and/or scientific advances. The will of the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes in 1895. The prizes in Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics, and Physiology or Medicine were first awarded in 1901. Between 1901 and 2015, the Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economic Sciences were awarded 573 times to 900 people and organizations. With some receiving the Nobel Prize more than once, this makes a total of 870 individuals (821 men and 49 women) and 23 organizations. Each recipient, or laureate, receives a gold medal, a diploma and a sum of money, which is decided by the Nobel Foundation.
On November 27, 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his third and last will at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris. When it was opened and read after his death, the will caused a lot of controversy both in Sweden and internationally, as Nobel had left much of his wealth for the establishment of a prize. His family opposed the establishment of the Nobel Prize, and the prize awarders he named refused to do what he had requested in his will. It was five years before the first Nobel Prize could be awarded in 1901.
Between 1901 and 2015, the Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economic Sciences were awarded 573 times.
The Nobel Prize and Prize in Economic Sciences have been awarded to women 49 times between 1901 and 2015. Only one woman, Marie Curie, has been honoured twice, with the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. This means that 48 women in total have been awarded the Nobel Prize between 1901 and 2015.
Jean-Paul Sartre, awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature, declined the prize because he had consistently declined all official honours.
Le Duc Tho, awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. They were awarded the Prize for negotiating the Vietnam peace accord. Le Doc Tho said that he was not in a position to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, citing the situation in Vietnam as his reason.
Three Nobel Laureates were under arrest at the time of the award of the Nobel Prize, all of them Nobel Peace Prize Laureates:
German pacifist and journalist Carl von Ossietzky
Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi
Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo
At the Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies on 10 December the Nobel Laureates receive three things: a Nobel Diploma, a Nobel Medal and a document confirming the Nobel Prize amount. Each Nobel Diploma is a unique work of art, created by foremost Swedish and Norwegian artists and calligraphers. The Nobel Medals are handmade with careful precision and in 18 carat green gold plated with 24 carat gold.
The Nobel Medals in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine and Literature are identical on the face: it shows the image of Alfred Nobel and the years of his birth and death (1833-1896). Nobel's portrait also appears on the Nobel Peace Prize Medal and the Medal for the Prize in Economic Sciences, but with a slightly different design. The image on the reverse varies according to the institution awarding the prize.
Each Nobel Diploma is a unique work of art, created by foremost Swedish and Norwegian artists and calligraphers.
Alfred Nobel left most of his estate, more than SEK 31 million (today approximately SEK 1,702 million) to be converted into a fund and invested in "safe securities." The income from the investments was to be "distributed annually in the form of prizes to those who during the preceding year have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind."
The Nobel Prize amount for 2015 is set at Swedish kronor (SEK) 8.0 million per full Nobel Prize.
Why are the individuals and organisations awarded a Nobel Prize called Nobel Laureates?
The word "Laureate" refers to being signified by the laurel wreath. In Greek mythology, the god Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head. A laurel wreath is a circular crown made of branches and leaves of the bay laurel (in Latin: Laurus nobilis). In Ancient Greece, laurel wreaths were awarded to victors as a sign of honour - both in athletic competitions and in poetic meets.
More information is available at http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/facts/