Sri Lanka Country Report
Corruption remains entrenched in almost all levels of society in Sri Lanka, and the return of the Rajapaksas to political power in November 2019 will likely further exacerbate corruption risks in the country. Several days of largely peaceful industrial action is likely by government employees, and increasingly in the industrial and manufacturing sectors as a result of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus pandemic. Extended action by workers in sectors deemed strategic by the government – for example ports and energy – would likely prompt the government to deploy the military to temporarily take over operations, thus limiting disruption to under a few days.
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.
Violent crime – particularly homicide – decreased slightly in Sri Lanka on an annual basis in 2019. Police reported 479 homicides last year compared with 489 in 2018. 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.
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.
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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