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Country Reports

Sri Lanka Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Parliamentary elections are likely after March 2020 after the UNP-led government resigned following Gotabaya Rajapaksa's comprehensive victory in the 16 November presidential election. Until then, a minority government led by Mahinda Rajapaksa with limited scope to pass legislation will run the country. The presidential election result indicates that the SLPP is well placed to win a parliamentary election. An SLPP-led government, supported by President Gotabaya, would likely seek to reduce value-added tax, increase farmers' subsidies, and resist state-owned enterprise reform and privatisation.Suicide attacks against churches and hotels in April 2019 were probably carried out by local Islamist militants. Security forces have since reported arresting more than 100 people connected to the attacks, but there is a residual risk that any remaining militants will carry out further attacks targeting non-Muslims and/or foreigners in hotels, restaurants, and places of worship. Industrial, commercial, and energy assets are unlikely to be targeted. There is no evidence yet that more than one Islamist cell is active in Sri Lanka, indicating that a protracted Islamist insurgency is unlikely.The April 2019 attacks have undermined Sri Lanka's important tourism sector, and we have resultantly downgraded Sri Lanka's 2019 GDP projection to settle at 2.7%. Headline inflation is anticipated to settle at 4.4% in 2019 as agriculture recovers and food inflation subsides with the return of normal weather conditions. Risks to the inflation profile remain on the upside after the introduction of automatic pricing formulas for oil and electricity and stronger projected currency depreciation pressures. Sri Lanka's external position will remain vulnerable in the context of looming external and domestic downside risks, a sizeable non-oil trade deficit, and a relatively low level of foreign reserves. Sri Lanka's rupee will likely face increased depreciation pressures from the pressing need to provide for debt repayments in an environment of tightening global financial liquidity conditions.
Last update: November 26, 2019

Operational Outlook

The government’s agenda will probably be based on streamlining foreign-investment regulation to attract foreign capital – particularly from Europe, India, and the United States – 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 government. Expropriation is unlikely, but labour unrest is likely in the oil and port sectors.

Last update: August 24, 2019

Terrorism

Elevated

Suicide attacks against churches and hotels in April 2019 were claimed by the Islamic State, but subsequent investigations have found no link between the Sri Lankan militants that carried out the attacks and transnational groups. Although this indicates that further sophisticated suicide attacks are unlikely, we assess that religious unrest is likely to drive the risk of improvised explosive device attacks against security forces, Buddhist temples, hotels, and Western tourists. Industrial, commercial, and energy assets, however, are unlikely to be targeted. A revival of the LTTE, the insurgent group defeated at the end of the civil war, is unlikely.

Last update: December 14, 2019

Crime

Violent crime – particularly homicide – increased in Sri Lanka on an annual basis in 2018. Police reported 489 homicides in 2018 compared with 452 in 2017. In part, the violence was likely attributable to domestic organised groups using Sri Lanka as a hub for narcotics smuggling. However, the vast majority of violent crime affects locals rather than foreigners, whether tourists or business travellers. Crime data underlines that petty theft and tourist scams are more likely to affect foreigners than violent crime.

Last update: September 12, 2019

War Risks

A return to civil war is very unlikely. Although some LTTE remnants continue to exist, in Sri Lanka 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.

Last update: December 7, 2019

Social Stability

High

Inflation, rising energy 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. The April 2019 Islamist attacks are also likely to exacerbate existing communal fault lines, increasing the risk of anti-Muslim rioting, particularly in Colombo, Galle, Gampa and Kalutara.

Last update: August 23, 2019

Health Risk

Very high

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.

Routine Vaccinations

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).

Other Vaccinations

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.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Severe

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.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Moderate

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.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

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.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +94
Police: 112 or 119

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019