Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has launched plans for a referendum next year, seeking for independence from the United Kingdom.

It's the only way, in our opinion, we can shape our country's future, said Mr Salmond at a press conference in Edinburgh.

The debate in Scottish politics is no longer between change or no change, it’s about the kind of change we seek, and the right of the people to choose their future in a free and fair referendum, he said.

The document was launched on Saint Andrew's Day, Scotland's national day.

The 176-page so-called white paper outlines plans for an independent Scotland to take charge of its own affairs.

It also foresees a further referendum in future on the adoption of the euro.

This historic document sets out the case for Scottish independence with unprecedented depth and clarity, the paper said.

England and Scotland have shared the same monarch from 1603 and in 1707, the two kingdoms merged to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, with a single parliament and government.

The Scottish Parliament, reestablished in 1999 after three centuries, currently has power over issues such as health, education and the legal system.