United States of America Country Report
In mid-term elections held in November 2018, Democrats took a majority in the House of Representatives while Republicans extended their majority in the Senate. Given the congressional composition, the likelihood of policy gridlock will almost certainly increase. Nonetheless, the Trump administration will continue to rely on executive actions to pursue the America First agenda, particularly on sanctions (including directed against Iran), trade relations with China, deregulation, and immigration.
Although organised attack risks remain, radicalised Islamist and domestic groups and individuals pose a more imminent threat. Issue-driven protests including around immigration, gun control, or reproductive rights are common, with an increasing likelihood of demonstrations by individuals associated with right-wing extremist organisations. The economy remains on a path of steady growth consistent with a moderate recovery.
Foreign investment is welcomed, although a recent trend towards trade and investment protectionism increases uncertainty around existing trade agreements and foreign mergers with US firms. President Donald Trump's immigration policy raises the likelihood of firms facing difficulties in securing visas for foreign employees. Corruption levels remain modest. Environmentalist movements have become more active, particularly around pipelines in western states. There have been limited labour strikes around minimum wage levels and labour conditions. Trump has lifted some barriers to certain energy projects on federal land and offshore.
Lone-actor terrorist attacks inspired by the Islamic State or Al-Qaeda pose a risk. Attacks likely involve firearms or improvised explosive devices as seen in the 2016 mass shooting in Orlando and in the September 2016 bombings in New York. Attacks could also involve the use of vehicles, as seen in the 2016 and 2017 attacks in Columbus and New York City. Right-wing terrorists pose a threat to Jewish, Muslim, African American, and LGBT assets and individuals, in addition to government buildings and abortion clinics. Attacks carried out by environmental and animal rights activists exist, but remain relatively infrequent.
The risk of war on US soil remains low. Yet, aside from the US-North Korea summit in May 2018 in Singapore, the odds of a nuclear confrontation with North Korea have increased since 2015. Additionally, a number of ongoing military engagements abroad – in Afghanistan, Somalia, and Syria – have escalated under the current administration. Trump's continued animosity towards the Iranian nuclear agreement also raises the prospect of missile strikes against nuclear facilities, if only in association with escalating hostilities with Iran and US allies like Israel and/or Saudi Arabia.
The likelihood of well-organised protests in the one-year outlook around issue areas including gun control, immigration, and the environment, and involving hundreds or even thousands across urban centres including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington DC, remains elevated. Demonstrations by individuals associated with right-wing extremist organisations have become increasingly common, as have counter protests organised by members of the so-called anti-fascist (Antifa) movement, leading to fights and vandalism. Although race relations and incidents of police brutality remain important issues, the number and intensity of Black Lives Matter protests have decreased since Donald Trump's election.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
Medical Visit: A medical visit is required for all foreigners wishing to obtain a long-term visa. Persons suffering from tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhea, leprosy, chancroid, lymphogranuloma venereum, or granuloma inguinale could see their visa refused. The United States has however recently lifted restrictions on HIV-positive travelers.
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).
Hepatitis A (for travel to Hawaii): 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.
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
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.
First and foremost, the risk of natural disasters cannot be underestimated.
Seismic activity is strong along the San Andreas Fault (southwest); although no major earthquake (with a magnitude equal to or greater than 8.0) has struck the area in over a century (since the San Francisco earthquake of 1906), the risk is still present. On August 24, 2014, a 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck northern California (epicenter south of Napa); one death and nearly 200 injuries were reported, as were substantial damages. There is also the risk of earthquakes along the Cascadia subduction zone, located off the coast of the Pacific North West.
The West Coast is vulnerable to the risk of a tsunami in the event of a maritime earthquake.
The entire east of the country is prone to flooding and hurricanes along the coast (particularly in the southeast, e.g. Florida and Louisiana). Hurricane season in the North Atlantic extends from June 1 to November 30, with a peak period typically occurring in August-September. Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast ‒ notably the city of New Orleans ‒ in August 2005, leaving some 1800 dead and causing nearly USD 100 billion in damages. More recently, in August 2011, Hurricane Irene swept up the East Coast, leaving 30 dead and USD 1 billion worth of damage in its wake, as well as significant travel disruptions (several thousand flights canceled; 350,000 residents evacuated from their homes in New York state). Historic flooding in Louisiana prompted by torrential rains in August 2016 left 13 dead.
Violent thunderstorms accompanied by often-deadly tornadoes regularly hit the southern and central regions of the country in the summer and fall. Tornado season typically extends from March through July. The region of the country most at risk, the so-called Tornado Alley, includes the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. However, the entire area east of the Rocky Mountains (including the Great Plains, Midwest, Mississippi Valley, and southeast) is vulnerable to tornadoes and severe summer storms, which often strike in the afternoon or evening. Each year, some 1200 tornadoes are reported nationwide.
Wildfires are common in the summer months, particularly in the west of the country. California is currently in its fifth year of drought, making the region particularly susceptible to wildfires (nearly 5000 in 2016 as of mid-September).
Potential travelers should be happy to note that the quality of medical and hospital facilities, modes of transportation, highways, and hotels throughout the country is high.
If traveling by air, be aware that airport screenings can be very thorough, leading to long lines at checkpoints.
The climate of the United States varies considerably by region.
The northwest of the country experiences an oceanic climate with relatively stable temperatures throughout the year, rainy winters, and sunny summers. In the southwest, winters are mild and summers hot and dry. In the Rocky Mountain region the climate is continental (harsh winters and very hot and dry summers). In the northeast and Midwest, summers are hot and winters are very cold, even harsh. In the southeast (from Florida to Louisiana), winter is mild and dry and summer is hot and humid with a high risk of hurricanes in the late summer.
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