The Deputy First Minister cited a string of Westminster policies, dating back to the 1970s, which she said had cost Scotland jobs and undermined economic growth.
Heading the list was the cut to capital budgets, first imposed by the previous Labour government and continued under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition, which the SNP has blamed for the loss of 19,000 jobs in Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon hit out at the failure by UK governments to create an oil fund similar to Norway's.
She was speaking before the launch today of "Scotland's Economy: the case for independence", the latest Scottish Government input to the referendum debate.
She said: "The UK Government's economic policies have been holding Scotland back for generations.
"Only with the powers of independence can Scotland meet its full potential.
"We already know that by international standards Scotland is a wealthy and productive country, and has the potential to be an economically successful independent nation.
"But despite the vast array of human, financial and natural resources that Scotland currently has we are not reaching our full economic potential as a nation, and this report provides clear evidence that the West-minster system of government is hindering Scotland's potential."
Today's report, which will be unveiled by First Minister Alex Salmond and Deputy First Minister in Falkirk, is expected to highlight Scotland's strengths in sectors, including life sciences, creative industries, information technology, oil and gas, renewable energy, food and drink, manufacturing, financial services and tourism.
Ms Sturgeon insisted an independent Scotland could have avoided cuts to its capital budget – spending on major infrastructure projects – protecting 19,000 jobs over the past four years.
Ken Macintosh, Scottish Labour's finance spokesman, said: "By obsessing over the referendum rather than taking on the real barriers to a fairer, better Scotland, it is the SNP which is holding Scotland back.
"Would it not be better for Nicola Sturgeon to use her talents and the range of powers already at her disposal to tackle the problems facing Scotland today?
"At a time when we face significant challenges as a country, it is obscene that the brightest and best brains in the Scottish Government are being wasted on these spurious papers which always come to the same pre-ordained conclusion – that somehow it is only our neighbours in England, Wales and Ireland which are preventing Scotland for reaching its potential."