Everybody knows what the best thing about the end of the year is. It's easy. No, it's not Christmas presents. Or seeing family over the holidays. The best thing about the end of the year is National Geographic's Photo Contest. It's a tradition where we get to see just how awesome the world around us is.

These pictures aren't even official winners and they're stunning. National Geographic is going through their selection process but we've picked a few of our favorites from Nature, Places and People. Such amazing work.

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The shot above was taken by photographer Hasan Baglar at Nicosia, Cyprus of two mantis, who look a lot like flamenco dancers. You can see more of the photographs from the photo contest at National Geographic and see some of the best shots, week by week, here.

Nature

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Photo by: Matthew Smith

Photo by: Lorenzo Mittiga

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Photo by: Colin Mackenzie

Photo by: Montse Grillo

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Photo by: Istvan Kerekes

Photo by: Rick Loesche

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Photo by: Henrik Nilsson

Places

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Photo by: Takashi Nakagawa

Photo by: Hiroki Kondo

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Photo by: Yusuke Sakai

Photo by: Cezary Filew

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Photo by: Melih Sular

Photo by: Beverly Houwing

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Photo by: Hiroshi Tanita

People

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Photo by: Shao Hua Luo

Photo by: Brian Callaway

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Photo by: Francisco Mingorance

Photo by: Hidenobu Suzuki

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