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President Barack Obama in the Rose Garde of the White House President Barack Obama gives a statement to reporters after being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, October 9, 2009, from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photo: SHAWN THEW/epa/Corbis)

President Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Award honors U.S. leader for his work to improve relationships among countries around the world

By Laura Leigh Davidson | null null , null
Map: Jim McMahon
Map: Jim McMahon

President Barack Obama has been awarded the 2009 Nobel (noh-BEL) Peace Prize. The Nobel Peace Prize Committee announced the news from Oslo, Norway, on Friday. The Peace Prize Committee said they chose President Obama for this honor because of his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

Since 1901, the Nobel Prize recognized exceptional achievement in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. An economics prize was added in 1968.

Surprising News

People around the world, including the President, were surprised at the announcement, especially because Obama has been in office for only a short time.

"I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee," Obama told reporters on Friday.

In particular, the Peace Prize Committee recognized Obama's commitment to work for a world without nuclear weapons, or weapons that can cause massive destruction. They praised his efforts to ease conflicts between countries and people deeply divided by religion and politics.

The President's dedication to strengthening the U.S. role in combating climate change was also a reason behind the Peace Prize Committee's decision.

In a speech at the White House, Obama said, "I do not view [the award] as a recognition of my own accomplishments." He said he will accept it as "a call to action—a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century."

Special Day at the White House

The President was asleep when the Nobel news was announced at 5 a.m. Eastern Time. He said that after he woke up, his daughters came in to congratulate him. But they also let him know he would be sharing his big day with the furry member of the family.

"Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize," Malia said, adding, "and it is Bo's birthday!"

The Peace Prize in America

The Nobel Prize is named for Alfred Nobel. Nobel was a Swedish scientist, businessman, and author, who invented dynamite. Nobel Prize recipients receive a medal, a personal diploma, and a cash award. (President Obama says he will donate the cash award to charity.)

Only a handful of Americans have received the Nobel Peace Prize. President Obama is the fourth U.S. President to be awarded the honor. Former President Jimmy Carter won the prize in 2000. Like Obama, Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were honored while they were still in office.
Other Americans who have won the Nobel Peace Prize include former Vice President Al Gore, in 2007, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in 1964.

On December 10, President Obama will travel to Oslo, Norway, for the awards ceremony.


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