Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Use Normal Level of Caution
Use High Level of Caution when visiting the following Provinces: Jaffna, Mannar, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, and Mullaitivu

Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean, south of India with a population of about 20 million people. The government is a republic with a president as both chief of state and head of government.

The two main groups of people in Sri Lanka are the Sinhalese and the minority who are the Tamils. The Sinhalese dynasty was founded by an Indian prince from northern India in about 500 B.C. Tamils from southern India settled later in the area of northern Sri Lanka. The island became a British possession in 1796 and became the independent nation of Ceylon in 1948. The country changed the name to Sri Lanka in 1972.

The country and its economy suffered decades of tensions and violence between the Sinhalese and the minority Tamils that resulted in the deaths of more than 70,000 people. More than 26 years of conflict ended in 2009 with the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

With the end of wars and violence, tourism is now growing. Travellers can enjoy a beautiful tropical land of rain forests, beaches, safari tours, tea plantations, and eight UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Currency LKR: Sri Lankan rupee
Language Sinhala and Tamil
Capital Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is the legislative capital; Colombo is the commercial capital
Recent Alerts 2
Latest Alert September 11, 2017 - Dengue fever in Sri Lanka - update

Diseases To Be Aware Of

The diseases listed below are those which occur most often in Sri Lanka. Other, less frequently encountered diseases might be displayed within the Travel Alerts section if they have occurred recently.

Hepatitis A

There is a significant risk for hepatitis A virus exposure in Sri Lanka through contaminated food or water. Infection can still occur at tourist destinations and resorts.

Hepatitis B

There is a significant risk for acquiring hepatitis B in Sri Lanka.

Typhoid Fever

Unvaccinated people can become infected through contaminated food and water in Sri Lanka, especially when visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where food and water sources may be contaminated.

Rabies

Rabies occurs in Sri Lanka. Travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, bikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk.

Yellow Fever

There is no risk of yellow fever transmission. However, this country requires a yellow fever vaccination certificate for travellers 9 months of age and older arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited more than 12 hours through an airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Japanese encephalitis

All areas are affected except the mountainous regions. The transmission season is October to January, with a secondary peak from May to June.

Dengue Fever

Outbreaks of dengue fever may occur.

Chikungunya Fever

Chikungunya fever has occurred in this country.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis occurs in Sri Lanka. Travellers to Sri Lanka are at risk for tuberculosis if visiting sick friends or family, working in the health care field, or having close prolonged contact with the general population.

Malaria

The World Health Organization declared this country to be free of malaria in September 2016.

Vaccinations to Consider

The following is a list of recommended vaccinations for travelling to Sri Lanka.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

There is a significant risk of exposure to hepatitis A for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

There is a significant risk of infection with hepatitis B for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Typhoid Fever Vaccine

There is a risk of exposure to typhoid fever in this country through consumption of unsafe food and water. Since exposure to unsafe sources is variable within this country, the vaccination against typhoid fever is generally recommended, especially when visiting smaller cities or rural areas, where food and water sources may be contaminated.

Rabies Vaccine

Vaccination against rabies is recommended for travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, bikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) who may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk and should be vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccine

The yellow fever vaccination is not recommended for this country. However, this country requires a yellow fever vaccination certificate for travellers 9 months of age and older arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited more than 12 hours through an airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine

Short-term travellers and those who restrict their visits to urban areas are at very low risk. Those at higher risk are travellers who visit or work in rural agricultural areas such as rice fields and marshland. Long-term travellers and expatriates are also at higher risk. Vaccination is recommended for persons at higher risk.

Medications to Consider

The following is a list of recommended medications for travelling to Sri Lanka.

None required.

Safety and Security in Sri Lanka

Emergency Numbers

119 Not for emergency medical services
+94-11-2421451 Tourist police hotline
110
112 Mobile network

The responsiveness of the police may vary.

Personal Safety

Most travellers to Sri Lanka have no trouble. However, petty crime, such as pickpocketing, bag snatching, or other theft does occur. Always be alert to your personal safety and security. There have been reports of theft from hotel rooms. Keep valuables secured and out of sight. Safeguard your important documents, such as your passport. Avoid walking alone at night. Do not accept drinks or food from strangers and never leave your drinks out of your sight. There have been reports of drinks being spiked in bars in southern beach resorts.

Travel in a group if possible. Women should be vigilant about personal safety. Western women have reported verbal and physical harassment by men, particularly in crowded areas. Although most sexual assaults are against Sri Lankan women, attacks against foreign women are reported to be increasing, particularly in tourist areas.

There have been reports of violent crime, including murder and kidnapping, but mainly involving Sri Lankans. Some reports indicate an increase in serious crime against foreigners.

If possible, avoid using public bus transportation in Sri Lanka due to criminal activity. Also bus drivers may not follow safe driving practices, and the buses are generally in poor condition and may be mechanically unsafe.

Most roads are in disrepair and drivers do not follow the rules of the road. Drivers may encounter unexpected roadblocks and checkpoints, and roads may be closed without notice.

Areas To Avoid

Exercise caution if travelling in the Eastern Province. Landmines could be a risk in some areas. Stay on main roads and watch for signs warning of landmines. Ethnic conflict can occur without warning in this area.

Northern Province: Military activities are ongoing in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, including Mannar, Vavuniya, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Jaffna Districts. Marked and unmarked landmine fields are a risk in some areas. Stay on main roads and watch for signs warning of landmine areas.

Foreign nationals, with the exception of media crews, no longer need permission from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense to travel to the northern districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaittivu, Mannar and Vavuniya. However, there are ongoing military operations. For specific information about the accessibility of a particular area, contact the Sri Lankan Military Liaison Officer on +94 11 2430 860.

Political Unrest

Political rallies in Sri Lanka can be unpredictable and have sometimes turned violent. Minimize safety risk by avoiding public and political gatherings and demonstrations since even peaceful protests can quickly and unexpectedly become violent.

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