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Even though the Nobel Prize is awarded on an individual basis, without taking into consideration the country of residence of the award winner, yet for the entire nation it becomes a matter of pride and honour. There have been a few instances where the countries have disassociated themselves with the prize winners as has happened recently with the Nobel Peace Prize Winner of 2010, Liu Xiaobo of China and many years ago with Alexander Solzehenitsyn of Russia. However amongst most countries there is a spirit of rivalry with regards to the number of Nobel Prize winners belonging to their nation.
The Top Ten Countries with the maximum number of awardees since 1901 (when Nobel Prizes were first awarded) are as follows:
This should come as no surprise, since they do have the best researchers and institutes. However what is surprising is that they are losing their share over the years. During the 1960s they had the maximum number of Nobel Prize Winners, but now their share is just over 50%. It may be proof only of the fact that other countries are beginning to get ahead in the field of science and literature.
They have among the world’s best universities and also some of the best research facilities. They have the second largest number of medicine winners and as is to be expected, the largest number of Literature winners. After all, they have the given us the finest writers over the centuries.
Germany is not too far behind in this list. So far they have won 30 in Chemistry and 32 in Physics. Their ratio of winners over the years is also decreasing, but this is once again due to the developing countries now coming into their own.
A distant fourth France, the majority of their prizes were in the field of literature and medicine. Their most famous awardee was Jean Paul Sartre who declined the award, and of course the husband and wife team of Marie and Pierre Curie who were awarded the Physics Nobel in the year 1903 and in 1911 Marie Curie won the award after her husband’s death , in the field of Chemistry.
The country where these prizes originated, has won a total of 28 prizes so far. In 1903 Svante Arrhenius won the first award for Chemistry, and in 1982, Alva Myrdal won the coveted Peace Prize for her activism in the field of disarmament.
If a list was made with regard to per capita rankings, then Switzerland is likely to be on top of the list. They have a ratio of 3 Nobel Prizes per million inhabitants. Their list of prize winners includes Herman Hesse for literature in 1946 and Albert Einstein for Physics in 1921.
Mikhail Gorbachev for Peace in 1990, Boris Pasternak for Literature in 1958 (he was forced by the State to decline the award) and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn for Literature in 1970 (an award which earned him an exile from his country), the list of prize winners includes many famous names in almost all the fields.
Their first prize winner was Bertha Von Suttner who won the Peace Prize in 1905, followed by Alfred Hermann Fried in 1911. They have won seven prizes in the field of Medicine.
Canada has also won 20 Nobel Prizes out of which seven were in the field of Chemistry. Their latest award winners are Willard S Boyle in the field of Physics and Jack W Szostak in the field of Medicine or Physiology, both in the year 2009.
Another small nation, but one which has a large number of prize winners amongst it’s citizens. Their notable winners include Andre Geim who won the latest prize for Physics and Pieter Zeeman and Hendrik Lorentz who jointly won it for Physics in 1902.
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