Salmond announced a referendum for independence from Great Britain will take place Sept. 18, 2014.
"It will be a historic day and one on which this ancient nation decides its place in the world," he said in a statement.
British Prime Minister David Cameron last month said Scotland would be better off if it decides to remain a part of the United Kingdom. Economic strength, national security and international influence were at risk of diminishing in a fractured United Kingdom, he said.
Cameron frustrated European leaders in his own right when he said his constituents would "have their say" on membership in the European Union in a referendum after national British elections in 2015.
Salmond said Scotland can do better on its own.
"Only the powers of an independent Parliament with control of the economy, of international representation and of security will allow us to make the most of our huge national potential," he said.
Salmond said the government is planning for a 16-week campaign period. The cost of the referendum is estimated at around $20 million.