Scots have shown a "hunger" for more powers, according to Alex Salmond.
In his new year message, the first minister said he was "confident" the country would opt for independence, adding that the coming 12 months would "mark a further shift in the debate on Scotland's future as we move towards a referendum".
The Scottish Government has pledged to hold the poll in the second half of Holyrood's five-year-long parliamentary term.
Delivering the speech from the newly refurbished National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, the SNP leader said: "I am confident that Scotland will decide to take full control of our own destiny and join the international community in our own right."
However, new Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont urged the Government to "get on" with the referendum. She hit out: "I say to Alex Salmond - 'If you are confident of your case, stop ducking and diving and dodging and deflecting. Name your day and make 2012 the year of the referendum'."
Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie argued in his message that most Scots were "not narrow nationalists".
He stated: "Nationalists believe that Scotland is not strong enough to stand tall in the UK.
"But I believe, and history has shown us, that Scots are confident, intelligent and able enough to prosper in the UK and beyond. I find that most Scots share these strong liberal values."
Both Ms Lamont and Mr Rennie took over as leaders of their parties in the wake of the SNP's landslide election victory in May, when the party secured an historic overall majority at Holyrood.
Mr Salmond said: "The Scottish people have shown a hunger for more powers in order to secure a fairer as well as a more prosperous future, and I believe optimism has been chosen over pessimism."