A set of annual international awards established by Swedish dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel in 1895. The Nobel Prize has been awarded for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and for peace since 1901. Each prize consists of a medal, personal diploma, and a cash award worth of approximately HK$9.25 million as of 2012.
Congo doctor, Malala tipped for Nobel peace prize
Speculation on Nobel Institute's choice for most-watched annual award focuses on Pakistani teenager and gynaecologist who helps rape victims
With this year's Nobel prize season opening next week, there is strong speculation the peace prize could go to Pakistani girls' education campaigner Malala Yousafzai, Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege or rights activists from Russia or Belarus.
The first prize to be announced by the Nobel jury in Stockholm will be for medicine on Monday.
But, as is the case every year, most of the speculation is on who will take home the prestigious peace and literature prizes.
A record 259 nominations have been submitted for this year's peace prize, but the Norwegian Nobel Institute never discloses the list.
The head of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, Kristian Berg Harpviken, follows the work of the peace prize committee closely.
Topping his list this year is Malala, the Pakistani teenager who survived a shot to the head last year by the Taliban for championing girls' education.
Harpviken said she "not only has become a symbol of girls' and children's right to education and security, but also of the fight against extremism and oppression."
But others suggest the prize would be too heavy to bear given her young age of 16.
"I'm not sure it would be suitable, from an ethical point of view, to give the peace prize to a child," Tilman Brueck, the head of the Stockholm peace research institute, SIPRI, told Norwegian news agency NTB.
He suggested the award could instead go to Colombia's peace negotiators or Myanmar's reformists.
Asle Sveen, a historian specialised in the peace prize, meanwhile said he thought the five committee members could give the nod to Congolese gynaecologist Mukwege.
The doctor has set up a hospital and foundation to help thousands of women who have been raped in strife-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo by local and foreign militants, as well as by soldiers in the army.
Human Rights Watch said the committee could also choose to honour rights activists in Russia, following the worst crackdown since the fall of the Soviet Union. Activists in Belarus were another possibility, said the group.
Another Nobel prize that generates much speculation is that for literature.
Experts in Stockholm's literary circles suggested Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich could obtain the honour, though her name was not among those listed as possible winners on online betting sites.
Ladbrokes had Japanese author Haruki Murakami as the favourite with 4-to-1 odds, followed by US novelist Joyce Carol Oates at 7-to-1, Hungary's Peter Nadas at 8-to-1 and Korean poet Ko Un at 11-to-1.