In 10 days, the people of Scotland will vote on whether or not to separate from the United Kingdom.
If they vote yes, it would mean the end to a union that began over 300 years ago. Many feel that such an event would have reverberating repercussions across the United Kingdom, Europe and the world. This is an extremely historic occasion.
If you haven't been paying attention to these developments, a recent YouGov poll shows that 51 percent of voters in Scotland back independence while 49 percent are against it.
This is the first time that supporters of Scottish independence have taken a lead in the polls, which has sparked a global conversation surrounding the implications of a "Yes" vote.
Here's what you need to know:
The United Kingdom contains England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and other small islands like the Falklands. England, Wales and Scotland make up the island known as Great Britain.
In 1707, Scotland and England entered into a voluntary union.
On this Day - 1707, the Act of Union created the Kingdom of Great Britain uniting the Kingdoms of England and Scotland. For how much longer? — Roger Moorhouse (@Roger_Moorhouse) May 1, 2014
When many people hear "Scottish independence," they likely think of "Braveheart." While the current Scottish independence movement does have historic roots, it's not a violent or anti-English movement. It's peaceful, civic and democratic.
Scotland has had a devolved parliament since 1999, meaning they have control over things like healthcare, education and the judicial system. They do not have control over taxation or foreign policy, however.
#YesBecause I want the tax I pay to stay in Scotland, not to be "recycled" by a socially corrupt Westminster Govt #indyref #VoteYes — Yes Melrose (@YesMelrose) August 23, 2014
Fundamentally, Scottish independence is about democracy. Many Scots are fed up with the status quo and don't feel represented in British politics.
I'm #YesBecause I want a Scottish Govt, elected by us, working solely for us, based in Scotland and where our vote counts. Democracy! — Rob Hannah (@RobJustRob) August 21, 2014
Many people in Scotland feel that they do not have proper representation in the UK Parliament.
#yesbecause Scotland should have a government we voted for, one that works in our interests rather than just londons. Bring democracy home! — Ross McLaren (@rossmclaren1) August 22, 2014
I'm #YesBecause Scotland needs representative democracy — Henry Hooper (@HaitchHaitch) August 21, 2014
#YesBecause we'll get the government Scotland elects all the time not once in a lifetime. #democracy — Ruth Maguire (@RBFMaguire) August 21, 2014
I'm #YesBecause Scotland is best placed to make decisions about Scotland run by a government elected by the people of Scotland #democracy — Ria Robertson (@RiaDRobertson) August 21, 2014
Not having control over foreign policy has angered many Scots. Most were against the 2003 Iraq War, for example.
I'm #YesBecause all I've ever known is illegal wars & gross human rights violations. I want a Scotland that has a dignified foreign policy. — Miriam Brett (@MiriamBrett) August 21, 2014
I'm #YesBecause UK foreign policy does not reflect the wishes of the people of Scotland. #VoteYES — Ysabelle Stewart (@YsabelleStewart) August 21, 2014
The United Kingdom also stores nuclear weapons off the coast of Scotland, which does not sit well with many Scottish people.
So we need nuclear bombs in Scotland... #YesBecause @YesScotland @scotgp @theSNP @scottishlabour #indyref @CNDuk pic.twitter.com/wLdwOIhpV1 — Sergio Casci (@SergioCasci) August 22, 2014
#YesBecause Scotland can be a beacon for peace and nuclear disarmament. pic.twitter.com/8O8opksf6w — Scottish CND (@ScottishCND) August 21, 2014
If Scotland becomes independent, many question whether it would be able to keep the British Pound as its currency.
If Scotland votes for independence, the UK said they can't keep the Pound. But they can keep the haggis. — JC (@jcgreen) September 4, 2014
After Alistair Darling's currency confession, there's no doubt that Scotland can use the pound #indyref #scotnight pic.twitter.com/YwB7BlUZLh — Yes Scotland (@YesScotland) August 25, 2014
There are also concerns as to whether Scotland will be allowed to join the European Union and NATO.
Simply put, there are a number of economic and security concerns and a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the prospect of Scottish independence.
If Scotland votes for independence it's economy will wither and die. It'll be just like Spain but without the sunshine. #ScottishReferendum — James Dylan Edge (@JDEdge) September 8, 2014
Too much uncertainty for a Scotland "Yes" vote on independence. I'm not buying it. pic.twitter.com/x3c5CFMyWd — ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) September 8, 2014
At first, most people thought Scottish independence was extremely unlikely to happen.
FREEDOM!!!! RT @j_arthur_bloom: Opinion polls showing 15-20 point lead against Scottish independence http://t.co/txSg1xVX0U — David Boaz (@David_Boaz) March 4, 2014
However, there are some very serious problems in places like Scotland's largest city, Glasgow, and many people feel that independence is the best way to address these issues. Glasgow has some of the highest rates of poverty, violence and drug and alcohol abuse in western Europe.
Pro-independence demonstrators outside the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow ahead of tonight's #indyref debate: pic.twitter.com/wJKg2V7Xoe — Mark MacKinnon (@markmackinnon) August 5, 2014
Lowest life expectancy in Europe ,unemployment, child poverty , drugs Glasgow City Council are worried about this pic.twitter.com/LLbYixihWt — Lenny Mullan (@lennymullan) November 11, 2013
Child poverty in #Glasgow set to increase with Tory/LibDem & Labour austerity pledges. We must #VoteYes #Scotland pic.twitter.com/5jRyeKH2ib — James (@JamesMcLeary) September 4, 2014
There are two campaigns surrounding Scottish independence: the Yes Scotland campaign, led by the Scottish National Party, and the Better Together (No) campaign, led by the three pro-union parties in Scotland.
Great turnout 4 new @AyeOrkney shop in Kirkwall today - a place they said Yes campaign wd never reach. Uplifting. pic.twitter.com/3WzQLxoZcs — Lesley Riddoch (@LesleyRiddoch) September 5, 2014
People before flags, answers not slogans, reason not ranting, unity not enmity #bettertogether — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 6, 2014
Slowly but surely, the Yes campaign has gained support, which culminated in it gaining a lead in the most recent polls.
Whoa: Latest YouGov poll shows support for Scottish independence jumping eight points in the last month http://t.co/ACHsAitXlf — Matt Ford (@fordm) September 2, 2014
Poll gives YES vote first lead in independence referendum campaign | http://t.co/o9r2rNS6zw http://t.co/B29Oyi9hLN — Stewart Stevenson (@zsstevens) September 7, 2014
With a little over a week until the vote, the UK government is scrambling to convince Scotland to stay.
There are more powers coming to Scotland #bbcindref pic.twitter.com/ernW9TsAnq — Better Together (@UK_Together) September 3, 2014
Apparently, Queen Elizabeth II is very concerned about Scotland separating and is watching the situation extremely closely.
Queen "horrified" by possible break-up of UK, claim palace aides #indyref http://t.co/43O5W3CmYh — Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) September 6, 2014
Apparently the Queen is horrified at Scotland leaving the union. I'm pretty horrified at living in a country that still has a Queen #indyref — NeilMackay (@NeilMackay) September 8, 2014
The vote occurs on September 18. Regardless of the outcome, the debate surrounding Scottish independence is unlikely to disappear.
The people of Scotland requires change. September 18 referendum on independence. #Scotland #Scotland2014 pic.twitter.com/ZZzLQKjxP0 — Ann Salem (@twiblogann) September 7, 2014
IAIN MACWHIRTER 'Whatever happens in the Scottish independence referendum, the two countries are growing further and faster apart.' #indyref — Independence Celebs (@Celebs4indy) March 3, 2013
. @MayorofLondon tells MPs "whatever happens in Sept" referendum on Scottish independence, "argument for more devolution not going away" — Rebecca Keating (@RebeccaKeating) March 3, 2014
H/T: Huffington Post, Top Photo Credit: Shutterstock