There are six Nobel Prizes awarded each year: Peace, Chemistry, Physics, Medicine, Literature, and Economics.
Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite, created the prizes in his will. He donated a portion of his estate to fund these prizes. The will named the first five prize categories (Economics added during the 1960s) and also decided who would judge the winners.
It is the Nobel Foundation that administers the prizes and presents the awards in the fall after a rigorous selection process. The list of winners, especially Physics and Chemistry, is like a Hall of Fame. In Physics, for instance, the winners include Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, as well as Robert Millikan, Louis-Victor De Broglie, and Werner Heisenberg, quite a pretty prestigious list!
Today each prize is valued at over one million dollars. The size of the award and the duration of the Nobel Prize - in existence continuously since 1901 - make it special and famous.