A to Z of Scottish independence referendum
As Scots prepare to vote for or against independence on Thursday, here is an A to Z of the referendum, including some of the key issues at stake:
A for ANTHEM: Scotland has no official national anthem. The pro-independence prospectus says one would be established following public consultation. Candidates would likely include "Flower of Scotland", "Scots Wha Hae" and "Scotland the Brave".
B for BORDERS: Scottish nationalists want Scotland to remain within the British Isles' passport-free Common Travel Area, but London has raised the possibility of border checks if an independent Scotland pursues a looser immigration policy.
C for CURRENCY: Nationalists want to retain the pound in an Anglo-Scots currency union. London rejects this idea. Scotland could keep using the pound regardless, just as some countries use the dollar, though it would have to put up with monetary policy set for the remaining UK and have no lender of last resort.
D for DEBT: The pro-independence campaign say Scotland would have to agree a per capita share of the UK national debt, but also a share of UK assets. This would amount to around £130 billion debt for Scotland.
E for EUROPEAN UNION: Brussels insists an independent Scotland would have to apply for membership, though the Scottish government asserts it would not come to that.
F for FLAG: The white-on-blue saltire of Saint Andrew would remain the Scottish flag post-independence. What remains of the United Kingdom may decide to change the famous British flag, erasing the saltire, if Scotland leaves.
G for GDP: Nationalists claim Scotland has a higher gross domestic product than the UK and would per capita be the eighth-richest country in the OECD, a group of leading world economies.
H for HOLYROOD: Shorthand for the Scottish Parliament, based at Holyrood in Edinburgh, seat of the devolved assembly, which would become the seat of government in an independent Scotland.
I for INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: Nationalists want an independent Scotland to remain in the EU, NATO, the UN, OECD, WTO and the Commonwealth. They plan for 70 to 90 "international offices", demanding a share of the UK's embassy network.
J for J. K. ROWLING: The millionaire author of the Harry Potter books is English, but lives in Edinburgh. She is one of several celebrities, including Mick Jagger and Stephen Hawking, backing the union. Sean Connery and Irvine Welsh support independence.
K for KINGDOM: An independent Scotland would retain the monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state. The 1603 Union of the Crowns -- where Scotland's king James VI became England's king James I -- pre-dates the 1707 union of the English and Scottish parliaments.
L for LEFT OF CENTRE: A key nationalist argument is that Scotland doesn't get the UK government it voted for. Since 1964 when Scotland began consistently voting Labour, it has got a Labour UK government seven times out of 13.
M for MILITARY: Salmond envisages an independent army, navy and air force 15,000 strong, carved from British military assets. Scotland would seek continuing NATO membership, with an emphasis on North Atlantic maritime patrol.
N for NUCLEAR: Nationalists want a nuclear weapons-free Scotland. Britain's submarine-borne nuclear deterrent, based in Scotland, would have to move.
O for OIL: Some 90 percent of North Sea oil and gas revenues would come from Scotland's part of the UK continental shelf. Nationalists would look to set up a sovereign wealth fund, like Norway's, from the income.
P for PASSPORTS: All British citizens born or habitually resident in Scotland would be entitled to acquire a Scottish passport post-independence.
Q for QUESTION: Scottish residents will on Thursday be asked: "Should Scotland be an independent country?" The question was set by the independent Electoral Commission.
R for REFERENDUM: Brought about after SNP won a majority of seats in the 2011 Scottish parliamentary elections. First Scottish referendum since the one in 1997 that established a devolved Scottish parliament.
S for SALMOND: Scottish National Party leader Salmond is driving the pro-independence campaign and wants to become the first prime minister post-secession.
T for TAX: The SNP says there would be no need to increase taxes to fund current spending levels. It would lower corporation tax by up to three percent and increase personal tax allowances. British political parties have promised greater tax powers for Scotland if it stays in the UK.
U for UNIONIST: Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives, their Liberal Democrat junior partners in the British government, and the Labour opposition all support retaining the union. They make up the "No" campaign.
V for VOTING: Voters go to the polls on September 18. The vote has been extended to 16- and 17-year-olds. The polls are open from 7:00am (0600 GMT) till 10:00pm (2100 GMT).
W for WHISKY: At £4.26 billion last year, represents around 85 percent of all Scottish food and drink exports, making it an economic jewel in the crown for a possible independent Scotland. However, the Scottish Whisky Association says producers need the backing of a large diplomatic network with global reach, expertise and influence to prosper.
X for X: Voters must mark their ballot papers with a simple cross. Spoiled ballots will not be counted.
Y: for YES: The "Yes" campaign is backed by the Scottish Nationalists, Greens and Socialists.
Z for ZOO: Salmond regularly likes to taunt Cameron by saying there are more pandas in Scotland (two) than Conservative MPs (one).
© 2014 AFP