Major eye candy alert! Ladies and gentlemen, meet the 2012 Miss Universe contestants!

These lovely ladies will compete for the coveted title of being the most beautiful (inside and out) woman in the world  ... and judging by these bikini pics, the competition will be fierce!

For example, check out the abs on Miss USA Olivia Culpo, who grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island! She'll be joined by delegates from Albania to Vietnam -- all vying for the 18k white gold gemstone crown worth $250,000.

Voting for the semifinals started November 18th and will run until December 18, 2012 at 6pm ET.

And if you're passionate about your pick, don't worry ... you can vote up to 10 times per day with a valid email address. The contestants with the most votes will advance to the next round.

Click “Launch Gallery” above to see all the sexy ladies of 2012 and make sure to watch the competition Wednesday, December 19, 2012 8pm on NBC!