Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom -- along with England, Wales and Northern Ireland -- following a historic referendum vote.
A majority of voters rejected the possibility of Scotland breaking away and becoming an independent nation.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed Scotland's decision in a televised statement outside 10 Downing Street, saying it was a clear result.
"Like millions of other people, I am delighted," he said.
Cameron said he would have been heartbroken to see the United Kingdom broken up -- but paid tribute to the efforts of both sides in the campaign.
"We hear you," he said to those who voted for independence, adding this was an opportunity to change the way people in the United Kingdom are governed, and "change it for the better."
His government has delivered on devolution in the past and will deliver on it again, Cameron said.
A "new and fair settlement" will be created for Scotland and the other countries of the United Kingdom, he said.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond admitted defeat in an earlier televised statement -- and urged the rest of Scotland to do the same.
He thanked Scotland "for 1.6 million votes for Scottish independence" and said the turnout -- which electoral officials said was 84.6% from an electorate of more than 4.2 million -- was one of the highest in the democratic world for any such vote.
The final result in the referendum was 1,617,989 votes in favor of independence from the United Kingdom to 2,001,926 against.
This means the pro-union camp won by a margin of just over 10%, with 55.25% of the vote to 44.65% -- a much wider gap than than opinion polls in the final days leading up to the vote had suggested.
The result means the main political parties in Westminster -- and many people across the United Kingdom and Scotland -- can breathe a collective sigh of relief that the threat of a breakup of a centuries-old union is over. However, many on the "Yes" side will be bitterly disappointed.
Salmond hailed the political engagement seen in Scotland during the campaign and appealed for unity going forward.
"Today of all days, as we bring Scotland together, let us not dwell on the distance we have fallen short. Let us dwell on the distance we have traveled and have confidence that a movement is abroad in Scotland that will take this nation forward, and we shall go forward as one nation."
Salmond has previously said that if the "Yes" campaign lost the referendum there would not be another vote on independence in a generation.
Labour lawmaker Alistair Darling, who led the pro-union campaign in the Scottish referendum, hailed the result Friday but said that the message that the people of Scotland want change must be heard.
"The people of Scotland have spoken," he said."We have chosen unity over division and positive change rather than needless separation.
"Today is a momentous result for Scotland and also for the United Kingdom as a whole -- by confirming our place within the union we reaffirm all that we have in common and the bonds that tie us together. Let them never be broken."
He gave a commitment that the political changes promised by the Westminster parties -- involving the devolution of more powers to Scotland -- would be kept.
Darling also called for the country to unify after debate that "has created some fairly deep divisions in our country," and a campaign "that has both energized but at times divided" the Scottish people.
"Those divisions now need to be addressed and that requires leadership," he said, promising to play his part.