Sri Lanka Country Report
The president's dismissal of the prime minister in October 2018 is likely to trigger several months of political uncertainty and constitutional crisis. The UNP and the SLFP are likely to work on securing the support of parliamentarians ahead of the scheduled 16 November parliamentary session, which will probably involve a vote of no confidence against Mahinda Rajapaksa, the newly appointed prime minister. If the SLFP secures its hold on government – particularly after a decisive parliamentary election – economic policy would increasingly divert away from the UNP's preference for foreign direct investment, privatisation, and macroeconomic stabilisation. Terrorism risks have declined significantly since the end of the civil war in 2009, and although some remnant LiberationTigers of Tamil Eelam militants exist, a return to civil war is unlikely.
The government's agenda will probably be based on streamlining foreign-investment regulation to attract foreign capital – particularly from the United States, Europe, and India – in the manufacturing, information technology (IT), infrastructure, automotive, and agricultural sectors. Although the government aims to improve governance and reduce corruption, a fundamental improvement in corruption risks is unlikely given vested political interests in the ruling coalition. Expropriation is unlikely, but labour unrest is likely in the oil and port sectors.
Significantly weakened LTTE remnants probably continue to operate in Sri Lanka's Northern Province and India's Tamil Nadu state. However, they have low capability and a return to civil war is unlikely. Probable aspirational targets are limited to assassination attempts and military bases in the Northern Province. Militants' intent for mass-casualty attacks is low, as these would jeopardise international support for Tamils. Muslim extremism has increased, partly because of rising Buddhist nationalism, with incidences of Sri Lankans fighting for the Islamic State. However, this does not yet suggest a higher domestic risk, even though foreign tourists present relatively easy targets for the Islamic State's sympathisers.
A return to civil war is very unlikely. Although some LTTE remnants continue to exist, both in the country and probably in India's Tamil Nadu state, militants have very limited capability because of comprehensive military surveillance. Sri Lanka also faces a limited threat of interstate war. The ongoing dispute between Sri Lanka's navy and Indian fishermen will probably continue, mostly involving the arrest of Indian fishermen and seizure of their boats. However, international shipping and transport in the Palk Strait, including the India-Colombo ferry service, is unlikely to be affected.
Ranil Wickremesinghe's return as prime minister in December 2018 reduces the risk of large-scale destabilising political protests. Nevertheless, inflation, fuel prices, and the UNP government's foreign investment policies – particularly towards India and China – are likely to trigger opposition protests, particularly in Colombo and Hambantota. Protests are likely to be largely peaceful, although prolonged road blockades or attacks against police – usually with crude weapons and stones – are likely to trigger the use of tear gas and baton charges by security forces. Sporadic communal violence involving arson attacks against Muslim-associated properties and crude knife attacks against Muslim individuals are also likely.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and over one year of age.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Japanese Encephalitis: For stays of longer than one month in a rural zone during the rainy season (for children over the age of one). The vaccine is administered in a local medical facility.
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - chloroquine and proguanil (sometimes marketed as Paludrine ) or proguanil and atovaquone (sometimes marketed as Mepron).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Sri Lanka is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, including the torrential rain and flooding that accompanies monsoon season. There is also a risk of tsunamis in the country, as occurred on December 26, 2004, killing 38,000 people along the eastern coast.
Foreign travelers planning to stay for fewer than 30 days are able to enter the country with an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), for which travelers can apply online (www.eta.gov.lk) or at the port of entry. Stays over 30 days require a visa, which can only be obtained from a diplomatic mission of Sri Lanka (Embassy or Consular services).
Visitors will notice that modes of public transportation (coach buses, minibuses, trains) are not always punctual or dependable. Furthermore, social movements regularly cause disruptions to public transit systems.
Acts of maritime piracy sometimes occur; boaters should be careful in Sri Lankan waters and should always register with local police when docking.
Sri Lanka's climate is equatorial: hot and humid throughout the year along the coast and in the plains. Temperatures are more moderate and conditions drier in mountainous regions. There are two main rainy seasons: the southwest monsoon (May to August) along the western and southern coasts, and the northeast monsoon (November to January) along the eastern coast which receives torrential rains (although less frequently in recent years). From January to April, the country receives little rain and days tend to be very sunny.
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