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Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a presidential parliamentary democracy with a developing economy. Civil war and terrorism have seriously disrupted the country since 1983. Incidents of violence against military personnel and civilians have increased sharply in recent months. On January 16, 2008, the Government formally withdrew from the Ceasefire Agreement they signed with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2002. Despite the armed insurgency, Sri Lanka's beaches, hill country, and archeological sites continue to attract thousands of visitors each year from around the world. The Asian Tsunami on December 26, 2004 caused severe damage and loss of life to several coastal areas of eastern, southern, and southwestern Sri Lanka. Most affected resorts have completely recovered. The capital city of Colombo, the Cultural Triangle (Kandy, Anuradhapura, and Polonnaruwa), and many southern beach towns have good tourist facilities. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Sri Lanka for additional information.

Sri Lanka

   
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 COUNTRY OVERVIEW
Country Name: Sri Lanka
Continent: Asia
Capital City: Colombo
Boundary Countries:
Recommended Hospitals in Capital:

Battaramulla:  Battaramulla Medical Centre
Colombo:  Apollo Hospital Colombo, Asha Central Hospital, Asiri Hospital, Australian Medical Practice, Borella Private Hospital, Castle Street Hospital for Women, Durdans Hospital, Macarthy Private Hospital, Medi House, Nawaloka Hospital, New Delmon Hospital, Oasis Hospital, Royal Hospital- Sri Lanka, Sulaiman’s Hospital, Waypoint Clinic, Western Infirmary Hospital
Galle:  Ruhuna Hospital
Gampaha:  Arogya Hospital
Kalubowila:  General Hospital Colombo South
Kandy:  Lakeside Adventist Hospital
Kelaniya:  Kiribathgoda Medical Centre

Main Cities:

Colombo, Galle, Jaffna, Mannar, Puttalam, Batticaloa, Matale, Kandy, Badulla, Beruwala, Ratnapura, Moratuwa, Negombo, Trincomalee, Kalmunai, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa

Country Size: 65,610 sq km
Population: 21,128,772

 

COUNTRY GENERAL INFORMATION
Language:

Sinhala (official and national language) 74%, Tamil (national language) 18%, other 8%
note: English is commonly used in government and is spoken competently by about 10% of the population.

 

Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)
Predominant Religions:

Buddhist 69.1%, Muslim 7.6%, Hindu 7.1%, Christian 6.2%, unspecified 10%

National Holidays: Independence Day, 4 February (1948)
Economic Status:

In 1977, Colombo abandoned statist economic policies and its import substitution trade policy for more market-oriented policies, export-oriented trade, and encouragement of foreign investment. Recent changes in government, however, have brought some policy reversals. About 800,000 Sri Lankans work abroad, 90% of them in the Middle East. They send home more than $1 billion a year. The struggle by the Tamil Tigers of the north and east for an independent homeland continues to cast a shadow over the economy.

Security:

Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Air Force.

US Presence:

The U.S. Embassy in located at 210 Galle Road, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka. The Embassy's telephone number during normal business hours Monday through Friday is (94) (11) 249 8500. The after-hours emergency telephone number is (94) (11) 249 8888. The Consular Section fax number is (94) (11)-249 8590. The Embassy's web site is http://srilanka.usembassy.gov/. The Consular Section has a specific email address dedicated to American Citizens Services at ColomboACS@state.gov. The general email address for the consular section is consularcolombo@state.gov. The Embassy in Colombo also covers the Republic of Maldives.

Document Requirements:

A passport and onward/return ticket and proof of sufficient funds are required.  A no-cost landing visa, valid for 30 days, will be granted only to tourists at the time of entry into Sri Lanka.  Business travelers are required to have a visa prior to arrival.

Individuals traveling to Sri Lanka for purposes other than tourism (e.g., religious work, volunteering or working) must obtain an entry visa from the nearest Sri Lankan Embassy or Consulate before their arrival in Sri Lanka. Foreigners entering Sri Lanka on a landing/tourist visa cannot convert their visa to a non-tourist one, and risk deportation if they engage in activities other than tourism without the appropriate visa.

Visitors staying more than 30 days for any purpose must obtain a visa extension from the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo and pay the relevant visa fees.  Travelers must have yellow fever and cholera immunizations if they are arriving from an infected area.  Sri Lankan law requires all foreign guests in private households to register in person at the nearest local police station.  Individuals who stay in private households without registering may be temporarily detained for questioning.  This requirement does not apply to individuals staying in hotels or guesthouses.
Specific inquiries should be addressed to the Embassy of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, 2148 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC  20008, telephone (202) 483-4025, fax (202) 232-7181, contact by e-mail;; the Sri Lankan Consulate General in Los Angeles at 3250 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1405, Los Angeles, CA 90010, telephone (213) 387-0210; or the UN Mission in New York City, telephone (212) 986-7040. There are several honorary Sri Lankan consuls general and consuls in the United States.  Visit the Embassy of Sri Lanka website for the most current visa information.

There are no specific HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to and foreign residents of Sri Lanka.  However, Sri Lankan law does allow immigration officials to refer visitors and foreign residents to a physician for examination if a public health risk is suspected.  In practice this is a rare occurrence, but travelers should be aware that Sri Lankan law allows for the denial of entry to any foreigner who, upon referral from an immigration officer, is certified by a physician as posing a public health risk.  Travelers who refuse a medical examination under these circumstances may be refused entry.  Please verify this information with the Embassy of Sri Lanka before traveling.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

Major Airports:

Airports: 18, Airports w/paved runways: 14

Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB/VCBI)
Colombo Airport, Sri Lanka, Katunayake, SRI LANKA
Tel: +94 (0)11 225 2861
Fax: +94 (0)11 225 3187
Website: www.airport.lk
Customs, hours: 24 hours
Tel: +94 (0)11 225 2086, +94 (0)11 225 2208
Fax: +94 (0)11 225 2086
 

Servicing Airlines:
Risks and Precautions:

US Dept. of State Travel Warning Updated 26 June 2009.

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_3011.html

The Department of State warns American citizens traveling to or living in Sri Lanka about the potential for continued instability, including possible terrorist attacks.  This replaces the Travel Warning for Sri Lanka dated December 22, 2008, to update information on security incidents, safety concerns in specific regions of the country, and potential problems for U.S. citizen travelers.

On May 19, 2009, the Sri Lankan government announced that it had achieved victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), an armed insurgent group, after more than 25 years of civil conflict.  Despite the conclusion of hostilities, remnants of the insurgency group remain.  The Government of Sri Lanka’s security posture remains heightened.

The Department of State urges American citizens to evaluate carefully the risks of travel to Sri Lanka and specifically warns Americans against travel to the Northern Province and most of the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka due to the presence of uncleared land mines and the possibility of renewed insurgency.  Armed paramilitaries remain active in the Eastern Province.  Consular assistance to American citizens detained in the north and east may be significantly delayed.  Travel to all of the Northern Province remains potentially unsafe, in particular travel to the following areas: Anuradhapura District of the North Central Province; the areas north of Medawachchiya; the A14 road; and the road from Medawachchiya and Horowupatna.  Non-official travel by U.S. Government personnel to the Eastern Province, other than the A6 road corridor and Trincomalee Town in Trincomalee District and areas in Ampara District south of the A4 road and west of Maha Oya, is prohibited.  Travel in some parts of the country remains highly restricted by the Sri Lankan government, with particular sensitivity concerning the large number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in camps.

American citizens of Sri Lankan origin may be subject to additional scrutiny upon arrival and while in the country.  In some cases, foreigners of Sri Lankan origin may be detained without their embassy being notified.  The activities of journalists, researchers, aid workers, and volunteers receive particular attention.  The Government of Sri Lanka encourages Sri Lankan citizens to report foreigners who are suspected of carrying out activities not consistent with the national interest and/or their visa category.

Although no terrorist incidents have taken place since the government’s declaration of military victory over the LTTE in May 2009, there remains the possibility that remnants of the organization may attempt to carry out attacks.  In 2008 and early 2009, bomb explosions in densely populated areas killed dozens of civilians, including some areas frequented by foreign tourists.  Although there is no specific indication that American citizens or institutions have been targeted, American citizens risk becoming victims of violence by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  American citizens who decide to travel to Sri Lanka should be aware of their personal surroundings and follow prudent security practices.  Americans should avoid large crowds and public gatherings and should particularly avoid political rallies, military bases, government and military vehicle convoys, and high security zones, which have been frequent targets of LTTE attacks.  Americans are also advised against traveling by bus within Sri Lanka, as civilian buses have often been the target of past terrorist bomb attacks. American personnel in the U.S. Mission are currently prohibited from traveling by public bus.

Recent incidents include a suicide bomb attack on January 2, 2009, near the Air Force Headquarters in Colombo which killed two and injured 32.  On October 9, 2008, a suicide bomb attack on the convoy of a government minister killed one and injured six in the suburbs of Colombo.  On October 6, 2008, 28 civilians were killed and 80 injured in a suicide attack on the opening of a political party office in Anuradhapura.  Foreign tourists were not specifically targeted in these attacks and none were injured.

Americans should comply with all instructions from security forces and police when traveling in Sri Lanka.  American citizens, including those of Sri Lankan origin, whether living in Sri Lanka or traveling there for only a few days, are strongly urged to register with the Embassy online via the Department of State travel registration page or in person.  Embassy contact information is as follows:

U.S. Embassy Colombo
210 Galle Road
Colombo 03
Sri Lanka
Telephone: +94 11 249 8500
Emergency after-hours telephone: +94 11 249 8888
Facsimile: +94 11 249 8590
Email (American Citizens Services issues): ColomboACS@state.gov
Email (general Consular inquiries): ConsularColombo@state.gov

As the Department continues to develop information on any potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its consular information documents, including the Country Specific Information for Sri Lanka and the Worldwide Caution, available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov.

Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, outside the United States and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm (except U.S. federal holidays).

Mortality Statistics:

Infant MR total: 19.01 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth: TOTAL 74.97 years  (male 72.95/female 77.08)
 

Immunization Indicators:

Required: None
Recommended: Hep A & B, Rabies, Typhoid, Japanese Encephalitis
Boosters: MMR, DPT
 

Infectious Disease Concerns:

degree of risk: high
Malaria risk area in Sri Lanka: Risk in all areas, except no risk in the districts of Colombo, Galle, Kalutara, and Nuwara Eliya.
If you will be visiting a malaria risk area in Sri Lanka, you will need to take one of the following antimalarial drugs: atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine (primaquine in special circumstances and only after G6PD testing).
Dengue fever has caused epidemics in most South Asian countries. In 2005-2006, an outbreak of chikungunya affected thousands of persons in India. Filariasis is common. A sharp rise in the incidence of visceral leishmaniasis has been observed in several South Asian countries. Cutaneous leishmaniasis is present in Afghanistan (where it has infected US troops). Japanese encephalitis occurs widely except in mountainous areas of South Asia. Protecting yourself against insect bites (see below) will help to prevent these diseases.
Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection often contracted through recreational water activities in contaminated water, is common in tropical areas of the South Asia region.
Measles occurs in the South Asia region and can be a source of infection for unvaccinated travelers
 

Overall Quality of Medical Services:

Medical facilities outside Colombo are limited. The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of private physicians who may be consulted. Medical supplies are uneven; travelers should carry any special medications with them. There are six large hospitals in the Colombo area, including three with emergency trauma service-- Asiri Hospital, Apollo Hospital, and the government-run General Hospital. Serious medical problems may require evacuation to the United States or to the nearest country where adequate medical facilities or treatment is available, usually Thailand or Singapore. Neither Thailand nor Singapore requires American citizens to have an entry visa.

Providers in Network:
Direct Payment: 3
Referrals: 23
View Network Providers
Recent Medical Threats/ Concerns/Warnings:

Indigenous wild polio was present in 2005-2006 in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan; cases from Bangladesh and Nepal were confirmed in 2005-2006.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) continues to cause outbreaks in domestic and wild bird populations and has caused human cases in several South Asian countries. Avoid all direct contact with birds, including domestic poultry (such as chickens and ducks) and wild birds, and avoid places such as poultry farms and bird markets where live birds are raised or kept. For a current list of countries reporting outbreaks of H5N1 among poultry and/or wild birds, view updates from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and for total numbers of confirmed human cases of H5N1 virus by country see the World Health Organization (WHO) Avian Influenza website.

Communications Info:

Country Code: +94     
Internet Code:  .lk

 



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