Instituted by the final will of Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, the Nobel Prize is an award given to people who have done outstanding research or made outstanding contributions to society. The first ceremony to award the Nobel Prize was held at the Old Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm in 1901; beginning in 1902, the prizes have been formally awarded by the King of Sweden.
A large monetary award is included with the Nobel Prize, currently 10 million Swedish kronor (slightly more than one million euro), and is intended to allow the person to continue working/researching without the pressures of raising money for the research/work.
Nobel Prizes have been given yearly since 1901 for achievements in:
At that time, the decision was made not to add any more prizes in the future.
The Nobel Foundation has its own website: http://www.nobel.se/
See also Swedish Academy.
There is also a parody of the Nobel Prize, the IgNobel Prize, which is awarded annualy to honor achievements which "cannot or should not be reproduced."