A guide to Scotland as independence vote nears

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A guide to Scotland as independence vote nears
British Prime Minister David Cameron leaves after giving a statement to the media about Scotland's referendum results, outside his official residence at 10 Downing Street in central London, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Scottish voters have rejected independence, deciding to remain part of the United Kingdom after a historic referendum that shook the country to its core. The decision prevented a rupture of a 307-year union with England, bringing a huge sigh of relief to the British political establishment. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May arrives at British Prime Minister David Cameron's official residence at 10 Downing Street in central London, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Polls have opened across Scotland in a referendum that will decide whether the country leaves its 307-year-old union with England and becomes an independent state. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A pedestrian shelters from the rain beneath an umbrella as she walks near the Scottish parliament building in Edinburgh, U.K., on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to give English lawmakers more say on laws that only affect England after Scots rejected independence, a plan that may hit the opposition Labour Party's chances of forming a functioning government. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Pedestrians pass each other as they cross an intersection on Princes Street in Edinburgh, U.K., on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to give English lawmakers more say on laws that only affect England after Scots rejected independence, a plan that may hit the opposition Labour Party's chances of forming a functioning government. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Shoppers pass along Princes Street in Edinburgh, U.K., on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to give English lawmakers more say on laws that only affect England after Scots rejected independence yesterday, a plan that may hit the opposition Labour Party's chances of forming a functioning government. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Republican writing supporting the Yes vote in the Scottish Refrendum is seen on a mountain in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Scotland is due to vote on September 18th in a referendum on Scottish independence and many people in Northern Ireland will be watching closely on its outcome. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
In this photo taken March 15, 2014 a man carries a placard during a pro-independence march in Edinburgh, Scotland for the upcoming vote on Scotland's independence from the United Kingdom. Scotland's swithering "middle million" has Britain's future in its hands. "Swithering" means wavering, and it's a word you hear a lot in Scotland right now. Six months from Tuesday, Scottish voters must decide whether their country should become independent, breaking up Great Britain as it has existed for 300 years. Faced with the historic choice, many find their hearts say "aye" but their heads say "why risk it?" Polls suggest as many as a quarter of Scotland's 4 million voters remain undecided, and their choice will determine the outcome. Many long to cut the tie binding them to England, but fear the risks _ and the financial fallout. (AP Photo/Jill Lawless)
A "Scotland welcomes you" sign stands beside a road near Gretna, Scotland, Monday, Sept. 15, 2014. If Scottish-based voters approve separation from the U.K. on Thursday, officials from Scotland and Britain will have to sort out assets and debt, questions over continued membership in the United Nations and European Union, and whether to retain a common currency. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A Scottish Saltire flag, second left, flies alongside the other flags of the countries in the U.K. next to "The Auld Acquaintance" cairn, which is being built as a monument supporting the union of Scotland and the U.K., on the England Scotland border near Gretna, Scotland, Monday, Sept. 15, 2014. The stone circle is being built as a mass participation project as a monument to togetherness, open to anyone who wishes to place a stone there, decorated or otherwise. If Scottish-based voters approve separation from the U.K. on Thursday, officials from Scotland and Britain will have to sort out assets and debt, questions over continued membership in the United Nations and European Union, and whether to retain a common currency. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Stones, some decorated, form "The Auld Acquaintance" cairn, which is being built as a monument supporting the union of Scotland and the U.K. on the England Scotland border near Gretna, Scotland, Monday, Sept. 15, 2014. The stone circle is being built as a mass participation project as a monument to togetherness, open to anyone who wishes to place a stone there, decorated or otherwise. If Scottish-based voters approve separation from the U.K. on Thursday, officials from Scotland and Britain will have to sort out assets and debt, questions over continued membership in the United Nations and European Union, and whether to retain a common currency. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A Yes sign is displayed in a field with Llamas grazing in Jedburgh, Scotland, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. The British government plans to offer Scotland more financial autonomy in the coming days as polls predict a very close vote in the September 18 referendum on Scottish independence. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
From left, the Union Jack, St George's Cross and the Saltire fly at Adderstone, England, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. The British government plans to offer Scotland more financial autonomy in the coming days as polls predict a very close vote in the September 18 on Scottish independence. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
In this photo taken March 15, 2014 cards hang in shop in Edinburgh with -yes, no and maybe- for the upcoming vote on Scotland's independence from the United Kingdom. Scotland's swithering "middle million" has Britain's future in its hands. "Swithering" means wavering, and it's a word you hear a lot in Scotland right now. Six months from Tuesday, Scottish voters must decide whether their country should become independent, breaking up Great Britain as it has existed for 300 years. Faced with the historic choice, many find their hearts say "aye" but their heads say "why risk it?" Polls suggest as many as a quarter of Scotland's 4 million voters remain undecided, and their choice will determine the outcome. Many long to cut the tie binding them to England, but fear the risks _ and the financial fallout. (AP Photo/Jill Lawless)
FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, file photo a Scottish flag and a Union flag fly outside a Scottish memorabilia shop in Edinburgh, Scotland. The British government plans to offer Scotland more financial autonomy in the coming days as polls predict a very close vote in the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence. Chancellor George Osborne told BBC on Sunday that the government is finalizing plans to give Scotland "much greater" fiscal and tax autonomy and will unveil the proposals in the coming days. He spoke after polls showed a tightening of the vote ahead of the landmark September 18 referendum on whether Scotland should become independent from Britain. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell, File)
In this Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, file photo Yes Signs are displayed in Eyemouth, Scotland. If Scottish voters this week say Yes to independence, not only will they tear up the map of Great Britain, they'll shake the twin pillars of Western Europe's postwar prosperity and security, the European Union and the U.S. led NATO defense alliance. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell, File)
In this photo taken March 15, 2014 a man wears a multitude of 'yes' campaign badges during a pro-independence march in Edinburgh, Scotland for the upcoming vote on Scotland's independence from the United Kingdom. Scotland's swithering "middle million" has Britain's future in its hands. "Swithering" means wavering, and it's a word you hear a lot in Scotland right now. Six months from Tuesday, Scottish voters must decide whether their country should become independent, breaking up Great Britain as it has existed for 300 years. Faced with the historic choice, many find their hearts say "aye" but their heads say "why risk it?" Polls suggest as many as a quarter of Scotland's 4 million voters remain undecided, and their choice will determine the outcome. Many long to cut the tie binding them to England, but fear the risks _ and the financial fallout. (AP Photo/Jill Lawless)
Allan Smith plays his bagpipes for the passing tourist what stop at the Scotland England border at Carter Bar, Scotland, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014.The British government plans to offer Scotland more financial autonomy in the coming days as polls predict a very close vote in the September 18 referendum on Scottish independence. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
A Yes sign is seen displayed in a field with Llamas grazing In Jedburgh, Scotland, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014.The British government plans to offer Scotland more financial autonomy in the coming days as polls predict a very close vote in the September 18 on Scottish independence. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
Republican writing supporting the Yes vote in the Scottish Referendum on a mountain in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Scotland is due to vote on September 18th in a referendum on Scottish independence and many people in Northern Ireland will be watching closely on its outcome. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
In this photo taken March 14, 2014, locals dressed as Vikings carry torches as they take part in the annual Up Helly Aa, Viking fire festival in Gulberwick, Shetland Islands north of mainland Scotland. The fearsome-looking participants in the festival live in Scotland's remote Shetland Islands, a wind-whipped northern archipelago where many claim descent from Scandinavian raiders. They are cool to the idea of Scotland leaving Britain to form an independent nation, and determined that their rugged islands will retain their autonomy whatever the outcome of September’s referendum. (AP Photo/Jill Lawless)
FILE- British author J.K. Rowling poses for photographers at the Southbank Centre in London, in this file photo dated Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Author of the Harry Potter series of books, J.K. Rowling is having second thoughts about the romantic content for the characters in her Potter books, in an interview published Sunday Feb. 2, 2014, Rowling reveals she chose the relationships for very personal reasons, "as a form of wish fulfillment", and having little to do with literature. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, FILE)
A display of t-shirts are seen for sale in a Scottish memorabilia shop in Edinburgh, Scotland Friday, Jan. 13, 2012. This week Scottish authorities announced they will hold a referendum on independence in 2014, firing the starting pistol on a contest that could end in the breakup of Britain. Scotland's history has been entwined with that of its more populous southern neighbor for millennia, and since 1707 Scotland and England have been part of a single country, Great Britain, sharing a monarch, a currency and a London-based government. But for centuries before that, Scotland was an independent kingdom, warding off English invaders in a series of bloody battles. Now a more peaceful modern independence movement thinks its goal of regaining that autonomy is finally in sight. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
JEDBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: A Llama stands next to a Yes campaign sign in a field on the Scottish borders on September 10, 2014 in Jedburgh, Scotland. The Scottish referendum takes place next week and will determine if Scotland is to remain part of the United Kingdom. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
JEDBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: A Llama stands next to a Yes campaign sign in a field on the Scottish borders on September 10, 2014 in Jedburgh, Scotland. The Scottish referendum takes place next week and will determine if Scotland is to remain part of the United Kingdom. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
A Yes sign is displayed in a field with Llamas grazing in Jedburgh, Scotland, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. The British government plans to offer Scotland more financial autonomy in the coming days as polls predict a very close vote in the September 18 referendum on Scottish independence. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
A Scottish Saltire flag blows in the wind near the Wallace Monument, Stirling, Scotland. Thursday, Jan. 12 2012. The monument commemorates Sir William Wallace who defeated the English Army in1297. This week the Scottish Government has announced that they wish to hold an independence referendum in 2014. (AP Photo/Chris Clark)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Cuckoo's Bakery reveal the result of the cupcakes referendum that the bakery has been holding since March 7 by selling Yes, No and undecided cupcakes at Cuckoo's Bakery in Dundas Street, on September 17, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. In the informal poll 47.7% bought No cupcakes, 43.5% bought Yes and a further 8.8% bought undecided decorated cakes. The referendum debate has entered its final day of campaigning as the Scottish people prepare to go to the polls tomorrow to decide whether or not Scotland should have independence and break away from the United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Cuckoo's Bakery waitress Pippa Perriam reveals the result of the cupcakes referendum that the bakery has been holding since March 7 by selling Yes, No and undecided cupcakes at Cuckoo's Bakery in Dundas Street, on September 17, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. In the informal poll 47.7% bought No cupcakes, 43.5% bought Yes and a further 8.8% bought undecided decorated cakes. The referendum debate has entered its final day of campaigning as the Scottish people prepare to go to the polls tomorrow to decide whether or not Scotland should have independence and break away from the United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
GRETNA GREEN, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: The sun sets behind the Union flag (C), the flag of England (L) and the Scottish Saltire (R) on September 16, 2014 in Gretna Green, Scotland. Yes and No supporters are campaigning in the last two days of the referendum to decide if Scotland will become an indpendent country. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Hundreds of Yes supporters gather in George Square to show their support for the independence referendum on September 16, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. With just two days of campaigning left before polling stations open and voters across the country will hold Scotlands future in their hands. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A pedestrian passes a vandalized pro-independence 'yes' campaign billboard advertisement in Edinburgh, U.K., on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. The impact of Scotland's referendum debate has been felt more in the currency market with the pound tumbling and volatility surging on Sept. 8 after a YouGov Plc poll showed the nationalists overtook opponents of independence. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: A Scottish woman puts a chocolate marshmallow on a sentence reflecting her opinion upon a paper at Referendum Cafe opening for demonstrating Scottish people's choices and opinions regarding referendum on Scotland's independence in Glasgow, Scotland on September 16, 2014. Scottish people demonstrate their choices on referendum on Scotland's independence, will be held on September 18, with placards, banners, brochures and posters. (Photo by Yunus Kaymaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Scotland's Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon poses for pictures as she eats a 'Yes cupcake' during a visit to a carer's meeting in Renfrew in Scotland, on September 16, 2014, ahead of the referendum on Scotland's independence. The leaders of the three main British parties on Tuesday issued a joint pledge to give the Scottish parliament more powers if voters reject independence, in a final drive to stop the United Kingdom splitting. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
'Yes' cakes are displayed on a tray ahead of a visit by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Renfrew, Scotland on September 16, 2014, ahead of the referendum on Scotland's independence. The leaders of the three main British parties on Tuesday issued a joint pledge to give the Scottish parliament more powers if voters reject independence, in a final drive to stop the United Kingdom splitting. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: People listen as Sir Bob Geldof speaks to members of the public and supporters of the 'Better Together' campaign from a raised stage in Trafalgar Square on September 15, 2014 in London, England. The latest polls in Scotland's independence referendum put the No campaign back in the lead, the first time they have gained ground on the Yes campaign since the start of August. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: People listen as Sir Bob Geldof speaks to members of the public and supporters of the 'Better Together' campaign from a raised stage in Trafalgar Square on September 15, 2014 in London, England. The latest polls in Scotland's independence referendum put the No campaign back in the lead, the first time they have gained ground on the Yes campaign since the start of August. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Sir Bob Geldof speaks (centre) to members of the public and supporters of the 'Better Together' campaign from a raised stage in Trafalgar Square on September 15, 2014 in London, England. The latest polls in Scotland's independence referendum put the No campaign back in the lead, the first time they have gained ground on the Yes campaign since the start of August. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
CARTER BAR, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: A cairn with 'Scotland' painted on it greets visitors at the border with England on September 14, 2014 in Carter Bar, Scotland. The latest polls in Scotland's independence referendum put the No campaign back in the lead, the first time they have gained ground on the Yes campaign since the start of August. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
A Pro-independence 'Yes' campaigner displays his tattoos as he joins a march to the BBC Scotland Headquarters in Glasgow on September 14, 2014 to protest against alleged biased by the BBC in its coverage of the Scottish referendum. Campaigners for and against Scottish independence scrambled for votes ahead of a historic referendum, as a religious leader prayed for harmony after polls showed Scots were almost evenly split. AFP PHOTO/ANDY BUCHANAN (Photo credit should read Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 13: Members of the public watch Orangemen and women march during a pro union parade, less than a week before voters go to the polls in a yes or no referendum on whether Scotland should become and independent country on September 13, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. An estimated 10,000 people have taken part in a Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland procession in support of the Union this morning. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 11: Cup cakes showing, yes, no and undecided are displayed in Cuckoo's Bakery on Dundas Street on September 11, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Voters will go to the polls a week today to decide whether Scotland should become an independent country and leave the United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
A YES campaign Statue of Liberty on display in Niddrie a suburb of Edinburgh, Scotland, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. The two sides in Scotland's independence debate scrambled Tuesday to convert undecided voters, with just two days to go until a referendum on separation. The pitch of the debate has grown increasingly urgent. Anti-independence campaigners argue that separation could send the economy into a tailspin, while the Yes side accuses its foes of scaremongering. (AP Photo/David Cheskin)
Jockey Carol Batley, representing the 'No' vote, (L) and jockey Rachael Grant, representing the 'Yes' vote, prepare to take part in a 'Referendum Race' sponsored by the bookmakers Ladbrokes at Musselburgh racecourse in Edinburgh, Scotland, on September 15, 2014, ahead of the referendum on Scotland's independence. British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday was to plead with Scots to vote against independence in a referendum as Scotland enters the most decisive week in its modern history. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
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By PAUL KELBIE

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) - The people of Scotland will decide on Thursday whether to end a partnership with the rest of the United Kingdom that has lasted more than 300 years. Here is a guide to Scotland as the historic vote nears.

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WHAT IS SCOTLAND?

Scotland, with little more than 5 million people, is one of the oldest countries in the world, having been united as a single nation by King Kenneth MacAlpin in the year 843.

It remained an independent state for more than 800 years until the formation of Great Britain in 1707.

When England found itself at war with France in the early 18th century, fears that Scotland would side with the enemy prompted London to block trade and deprive Scots of property they owned south of the border unless they agreed to create a single country.

After much debate - and widespread Scottish hostility - both the Scottish and English parliaments were dissolved on May 1, 1707, and replaced with a new British one.

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HOW IS SCOTLAND DIFFERENT FROM THE REST OF THE UNITED KINGDOM?

Scotland has its own legal system, and the national Church of Scotland was guaranteed under the Act of Union.

However, all monetary and finance matters are controlled by the government in London and the Bank of England, which was founded by Scotsman William Paterson in 1694.

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DOESN'T SCOTLAND ALREADY HAVE ITS OWN PARLIAMENT?

A desire for more autonomy in Scotland led to Westminster holding a referendum in 1997 for the establishment of a devolved Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

The idea was backed by 74.3 percent of the voters and in 1999 the parliament was opened for business by veteran politician Winnie Ewing, who chaired the first meeting, with the words: "The Scottish Parliament adjourned on the 25th day of March in the year 1707 is hereby reconvened."

Members of the Scottish Parliament can legislate on education, health spending, housing, tourism, transport and a few other areas; they have no control over immigration, defense, foreign policy, employment, trade, energy or the main levers of finance.

Most of the money used by the Scottish Parliament to finance public services comes from a grant allocated by the United Kingdom government.

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WHAT ARE SCOTLAND'S ECONOMIC STRENGTHS?

The U.K. produces more than 75 percent of the European Union's offshore oil production, of which 90 percent is extracted from Scottish waters, according to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre. Based on 2012 figures, the Scottish government says this Scottish oil contributes around 24.4 billion pounds ($39.5 billion) to the U.K. economy.

In addition to oil, the Scottish government calculates the country could produce 25 percent of the EU's offshore wind and tidal energy and 10 percent of the EU's wave energy.

Scottish exports are worth around 100 billion pounds a year to the British Treasury, including more than 11 billion pounds from financial services, along with almost 9 billion pounds from food and drink, including whisky.

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WHAT HAVE THE SCOTS GIVEN THE WORLD?

Scotland's influence has been out of proportion to its size.

The Declaration of Arbroath, asserting Scottish independence in 1320, influenced the American Declaration of Independence. A rare copy of the Scottish manuscript was given to the U.S. National Archives by the Scottish government in 2011 in appreciation of the U.S. Senate passing a resolution designating every April 6 as Tartan Day in the United States.

Over the centuries Scottish engineers, inventors, thinkers and business people helped create the modern world. James Watt helped develop the practical steam engine, Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, John Logie Baird pioneered television and Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.

It was Englishman Winston Churchill who said: "Of all the small nations on earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind."

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