Here Are The Breathtaking Pictures That Won National Geographic's 2013 Photography Contest

National Geographic has announced the winnersof its 2013 Photography Contest.

More than 7,000 photographers from 150 countries submitted stunning images for this year’s edition of the annual contest.

A panel of National Geographic photographers chose winners in three different categories: people, places, and nature.

The winning photos in each category will be published in an upcoming issue of National Geographic, and each photographer will receive a prize of $US2,500. The grand prize winner overall receives $US10,000 and a trip to National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Contest rules required photos to be unaltered and in digital form.

National Geographic shared the honorable mentions and first-place winners with Business Insider.

HONORABLE MENTION, NATURE: 'The crows that live in Tokyo use clothes hangers to make nests. In such a large city, there are few trees, so the natural materials that crows need to make their nests are scarce. As a result, the crows occasionally take hangers from the people who live in apartments nearby, and carefully assemble them into nests. The completed nests almost look like works of art based on the theme of recycling.' -- Yosuke Kashiwakura, 'Crows Nest'

HONORABLE MENTION, NATURE: 'An Indian rhinoceros, far from home and stuck inside with late-winter blues at the Toronto zoo.' -- Stephen De Lisle, 'Indian Rhino, Canadian Winter'

HONORABLE MENTION, NATURE: 'On a good day in the field, a birder might see flock of birds. Great Egrets; Tidal area of the Danube in Hungary.' -- Réka Zsirmon, 'Flying Egrets'

HONORABLE MENTION, PLACES: 'I was driving along the beach highway when I noticed the bulls sunbathing on the empty beach. I initially thought I was seeing things, but no it really was sunbathing cows! I had to park my car a fair distance away and that meant a long walk along the beach in 35-degree heat. It did not matter because I had to get the shot! When I got closer to them I was careful not to spook them so I crawled on my stomach on the hot sand to get a good picture of them. Mission Accomplished! It was worth the effort!' -- Andrew Lever, 'Cows and Kites'

HONORABLE MENTION, PLACES: 'I cannot describe the eerie feeling I had when I walked in on this scene. I followed a massive storm front several 100 kilometers hoping to capture something special but this blew my mind. The surreal milky green water is a natural phenomenon caused by electromagnetic activity from the lightning hitting the water's surface. There was no rain where I was and not much wind either but in the distance the sky was charged and angry, subjecting its wrath over the graveyard of dead trees in this normally very dry lakebed. I was able to capture a series of unique images this being one of the best.' -- Julie Fletcher, 'Graveyard'

HONORABLE MENTION, PEOPLE: 'Arabic was born in one of the biggest cities in the world, New York. Right in the middle of the Bronx she grow and go to School. As she's 13 years old, her father decides to send her to her family in a small town named Bajakunda. Now she lives here without electricity and a two-hour bus drive away from the next city. Working every day from early morning til late night. No chance to leave this country. Arabic is the only person in this small town with an official American passport, everybody dream about that one but she can't use it anymore because of family tradition.' -- Bisig Maurin, 'Arabic in Gambia'

HONORABLE MENTION, PEOPLE: 'This is Ida. She is seven years old and born in Greenland. A year ago her mother, Marie, decided to move to Denmark in search of an easier life and to give her daughter everything that she never had, but even though the two countries are tied historically, the two cultures are very different and they have no Danish friends or any strong connections to Denmark. In Denmark, Greenlanders are seen as second-class citizens, drunks and socially challenged. This photo is part of an on-going series that is trying to show a different side to the Greenlandish minority in Denmark.' -- Cecile Baudier, 'Ida'

HONORABLE MENTION, PEOPLE: 'My girlfriend in her car at the stop street.' Michele De Punzio, 'Francesca'

HONORABLE MENTION, PEOPLE: 'A boy plays with balloons by Buriganga River as smoke emits from a dump yard during sunset in Dhaka, Bangladesh.' -- Andrew Biraj, 'Life Along The Polluted River'

HONORABLE MENTION, PEOPLE: 'This picture is a part of the series of my work ëFrumoasaí. 'Frumoasa' is Romanian for 'beauty.' It's a work about Laurentiu and his family. They live in shacks next to the railway near the Ghent Dampoort. I met him and his family in December 2012. They have to deal with all kinds of obstacles on a daily basis. The lack of a legal address gave them administrative problems and made it hardly impossible for them to find a decent job. They form a happy, warm and close family, despite the constant uncertainty in which they live.' -- Aurélie Geurts, 'Laurentiu'

PLACES WINNER: 'Realising this old town (Laocheng, means old town in Chinese) would soon be transformed into a new town through the speedy economic growth in China and perhaps lose its raw beauty in no time, I was pleased to capture this working mother carrying her child in her basket walking through the thick mist in a very early foggy morning, 2012.' -- Adam Tan, 'Long Road to Daybreak'

PEOPLE WINNER: 'This portrait of two identical twins (Nils and Emil, 15 years old) in Fyn, Denmark, is part of a series of pictures, portraying people who have a strong connection to another person and who often think of themselves as a 'we' instead of 'me.'' -- Cecile Baudier, 'Together, Alone'

GRAND PRIZE AND NATURE WINNER: 'A polar bear peers up from beneath the melting sea ice on Hudson Bay as the setting midnight sun glows red from the smoke of distant fires during a record-breaking spell of hot weather. The Manitoba population of polar bears, the southernmost in the world, is particularly threatened by a warming climate and reduced sea ice.' -- Paul Souders, 'The Ice Bear'

See more beautiful shots that were considered.

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