SRI LANKA

With thousands of kilometers of coastline, Sri Lanka offers an ideal destination for those who want to enjoy paradisiacal beaches, water sports or whale watching in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Dozens of different cultures have passed through these legendary lands, the main Asian cultures to the European colonies. Each town has left its mark that we can still see today.

Lush tropical forests, green plains, mountain ranges with peaks of more than 2,000 meters ... Sri Lanka offers a wide biodiversity that is reflected in its more than 20 national parks.

TRAVEL RECOMMENDATIONS

This recommendation has no binding effect whatsoever and operates as mere advice or advice. HolaSriLanka.es will not be liable in any way or for any concept of damages that, both due to the observance and due to ignorance or lack of attention to the recommendation, could be caused to people or property, not considering said recommendation title that covers any claim in this sense.

It is remembered, in any case, that the trip is always made at the expense and risk of the traveler and that all expenses derived from hospitalization, the transfer of the injured or the repatriation of corpses are the responsibility of the individual. Social Security benefits do not operate in Sri Lanka, so it is very necessary to take out travel insurance to cover the corresponding expenses.

Likewise, it is recalled that at this time no region of the world and no country is safe from possible terrorist acts.

Before making a trip abroad, it is recommended to register your data in the  Computerized Registry of Travelers  of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain, to facilitate attention in eventual emergency or need situations.

1) General recommendations for the traveler

IF YOU MAKE THE TRIP ON YOUR OWN, IT IS RECOMMENDED TO TRAVEL WITH EXTREME CAUTION AND REFRAIN FROM DOING IT IN CERTAIN AREAS.

Any type of demonstrations or political rallies should be avoided, as well as approaching military bases and government offices. It is advisable to stay informed about the evolution of the situation on the ground.

Although the civil war in Sri Lanka between the Army and the “Tamil Tigers” ended in May 2009 and the country is generally safe, in certain areas of the country, and especially in the Northern Provinces and from the East, there are still many police controls and the deployment of the Army. It is therefore recommended to be perfectly documented in any trip. There are still some areas without demining in the North and East of the country, it is recommended not to leave the roads and paths to travel in these areas.

Petty crime and fraud against foreigners has increased, especially in major tourist centers (Colombo, Kandy, and the entire southeast coast, which includes the tourist centers of Bentota, Galle, Unawatuna or Matara, among others), as a result of the large increase in the tourism in the country after the end of the war.
You need a passport with at least 6 months of validity.

Visas: You can obtain an electronic visa very easily. The Sri Lankan authorities have recently tightened the enforcement of their immigration regulations. It is recommended to be very scrupulous in complying with the law in this regard and refrain from doing any type of work if you do not have a specific visa for it. Since January 1, 2012, it is mandatory to obtain an electronic visa (ETA) to enter the country. It must be obtained online through the website  http://www.eta.gov.lk  where the different prices (from 10 to 25 dollars) and categories depending on the duration and number of tickets are detailed.

To extend the stay of a tourist visa, it must be requested 8 days before the expiration of the 30 days of validity of the visa before the Department of Immigration and Emigration: Department of Immigration and Emigration. 41, Ananda Rajakaruna Mawatha, Colombo 10. Tel. (+94) (0) 11 533 33 65 and (+94) (0) 11 533 31 62
Long-term visas, including employment visas, must be obtained from the Sri Lankan Embassy in Paris with accreditation in Spain.

2) Sanitary recommendations

Compulsory vaccinations: Yellow fever vaccination is required only for  travelers from affected areas (for European population, if there has been no recent contact with affected areas, no vaccination is required).
Recommended vaccines: Prophylaxis against malaria, as recommended by the specialist doctor.
For more information, see the following article:
Vaccination required to travel to Sri Lanka

3) Safety recommendations

Although the civil war in Sri Lanka ended in May 2009 and the country is generally safe, police checkpoints are still plentiful and the Army is deployed throughout the national territory, so it is especially important that is perfectly documented in any displacement. There are still areas without demining in the north and east of the country.
Although foreign tourism has not suffered any direct terrorist attack, places frequented by tourists have been attacked. Any type of demonstrations or political rallies should be avoided, as well as approaching military bases and government offices. It is advisable to stay informed about the evolution of the situation on the ground.
Some foreigners have been approached by the police for taking photographs of buildings or cars used by government authorities. The use of video or photographic cameras is prohibited near military bases and government offices.
It is recommended to take extreme precautions throughout the territory before and during electoral periods, in which strikes and violent demonstrations could take place.
It is recommended to take extreme precautions when bathing on the Sri Lankan coast, especially between the months of April and November, due to the intensity of the waves.
  • Risk areas (should be avoided): 
    • None.
  • Medium risk areas:
    • Access to the North of the country (Northern Province) is no longer restricted to foreign citizens (except for journalists), although security measures and the presence of the Army remain high. It is important to follow any indication of the local authorities.
    • Jaffna Peninsula: There is freedom of movement outside the High Security Zones and controls have been reduced. However, demining work continues in the area.
    • Kilinochchi, Mullaittivu, Mannar and Vavuniya: Despite the end of the armed conflict, there is still a strong military presence and there are still some checkpoints such as the one in Omanthai. Accommodation and infrastructure are very limited due to the damage caused by the war. Demining activities continue to be carried out in the area, so extreme precautions should be taken.
    • East: Demining tasks are still being carried out in the eastern part of the country, so it is advisable to exercise extreme caution and not leave the road or the marked path.
    • Yala National Park: It is recommended to take precautions when visiting the Yala National Park. Both “Block One” and “Block Two” can be visited, and for this it is advisable to hire a recognized tourist agency.
  • Trouble-free zones:
    • None. At this time no region of the world and no country is safe from possible terrorist acts.

4) Currency

The currency of Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan rupee (1,000 LKR = € 5 approx.)
Free exchange of the main foreign currencies, having to keep the receipts of any exchange operation. Most banks accept dollars and travelers checks. Despite having ATMs in the main cities, some of them do not accept international cards.

Close up picture of Sri Lankan rupee

5) Language

The official languages ​​are Sinhalese and Tamil. English is not official, but its use is very extensive, even at the administrative level or in informational posters for tourists.

6) Religion

Predominantly Buddhist, all religions are respected. There are prayer centers of various religions, especially Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or Christians of different aspects.

It is especially advisable to observe local customs regarding dress and behavior in public, especially in places of religious worship, so general caution is requested. It should be noted that foreigners have been arrested for displaying tattoos with religious images or symbols and that taking photographs of or with Buddhist statues or symbols is considered offensive.

7) Climatology

The monsoon is a meteorological phenomenon of strong winds, high temperatures and strong storms caused by a warming of the land greater than that of the sea, causing a rupture between the two masses (similar to a cold drop, but more frequently). The monsoon is divided into two types: that of the southwest and that of the northeast in Southeast Asia, reaching areas where both fronts converge.

  • Southwest Monsoon: June to September, usually low intensity (travel is possible on those dates)
  • Northeast monsoon: October and November, affects the least touristy area of ​​the country.

Since the south-west monsoon originates in the Indian region of Kerala, collateral damage in Sri Lanka is not as powerful. In fact, you can travel perfectly around Sri Lanka during this time. The rainy season begins in the southwestern half ( Colombo , Galle) from May / June to September, while the northeast monsoon only affects this area of ​​the country during October and November. Hence, the months between January and April are ideal to enjoy this dream island.

8) Other important recommendations

Drug trafficking is even punishable by death. Drug use is punishable by imprisonment, the duration of which will depend on the amount seized.

In public transport, it is common to find seats reserved for religious authorities. The signs indicating this are usually written in Sinhalese or Tamil. It is strongly recommended to respect this reservation, since incidents have occurred due to non-compliance with this rule.

Caution is recommended in the acquisition of furniture and wooden crafts as the export of antiques is prohibited and punishable by law.

Electricity adapter:  In Sri Lanka, the plugs and sockets are of type D (mainly), M and G. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. You will need an adapter to be able to connect your appliances electrical

Country telephone code: 0094

Telephone numbers of interest: 
  • Tourist Police: (0) 112 43 33 42
  • Tourist Office in Colombo:
    • Sri Lanka Tourism Board, 80 Galle Road, Colombo 03,
    • Tel: + 94 112 43 70 59/60, Fax: +94 112 44 00 01
  • Honorary Consulate of Spain in Colombo
    • Honorary Consul: Mrs. KBJ Priya Jayawardena
    • Level 9-02, East Tower, “World Trade Center”, Echelon Square, Colombo 1 (Sri Lanka)
    • Tel: (+94) 11 553 35 00/01
    • Fax: (+94) 11 553 35 02
  • Embassy of Spain:
    • The Representation of Spain in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is the Embassy of Spain in New Delhi (India):
      • Embassy of Spain in New Delhi
      • 12, Prithviraj Road New Delhi 110011
      • Phone: (+91) 11 4129 3000
      • Consular emergency telephone number: (+91) 98 10 17 41 60
      • Fax: (+91) 11 4129 3020
      • Email:  emb.nuevadelhi@maec.es

9) Data of interest

  • Official name: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
  • Surface: 65,610 km².
  • Geographical location: in South Asia, an island in the Indian Ocean off the south-eastern coast of India, from which it is separated by the Palk Strait.
  • Main natural resources: limestone, graphite, mineral sands, gems, phosphates, clay, hydroelectric power, farmland.
  • Population: 21,203,000 inhabitants.
  • Density : 323.17 inhabitants / km2
  • Population groups: Sinhalese 74.9%, Sri Lankan Tamils ​​11.2%, Sri Lankan Muslims 9.2%, Indian Tamils ​​4.2%, others 0.5%.
  • Population cities
    • Capital: Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte (administrative capital, 128,000 inhabitants), Colombo (commercial capital, 2,395,000 inhabitants).
    • Main cities:
      • Gampaha (2,372,000 pop.),
      • Kurunegala (1,676,000 pop.)
      • Kandy (1,434,000 pop.).
  • Religions : Buddhist (official) 70.2%, Hindus 12.6%, Muslim 9.7%, Catholic 6.1%, other Christians 1.3%.
  • Languages: 
    • Officers: Sinhalese and Tamil.
    • Others: English (link language in the constitution).
  • Administrative division: 9 provinces
  • Population growth: 1.1% (annual rate)
    • Age structure:
      • 0-14 years 24.3%
      • 15-64 years 66%
      • 65 years or older 9.7%
    • Gender structure: 0.93 (men per woman)
    • Urban population: 18.4%
  • Social Welfare Data (2015)
    • Human Development Index: 73 (ranked in the world ranking, 188 countries)
    • Public spending on health / GDP: 2%
    • Public spending on education / GDP: 2.2%
    • Gini index of inequality: 0.392
  • Main economic indicators:
    • Production (2016)
      • Current GDP: 81,321.9 (millions of US dollars)
      • PPP GDP: 261,139.63 (millions of US dollars)
      • GDP PPP per capita: 3,835 (US dollars)
      • Global competitiveness index: 71 (world ranking out of 138 countries, 2016-2017)
      • GDP per capita growth: 3.2% (annual rate)
      • Sectoral distribution of GDP:
        • Services 62.4%
        • Industry 29.7%
        • Agriculture 7.9%
      • Structure of demand / GDP:
        • Private consumption 65.4%
        • Public consumption 8.4%
        • Gross capital formation 36.3%
        • Exports of goods and services 20.4%
        • Imports of goods and services -30.5%
      • Gross domestic savings / GDP: 28.9%
      • Employment (2016)
        • Active population / population over 15 years: 51.7%
        • Active women / total workforce: 30.9%
        • Employed population by sectors: (2015)
          • Agriculture 28.2%
          • Industry 26.0%
          • Services 45.2%
        • Unemployment rate: 5%
        • Prices (2016)
          • Consumer Price Index: 3.6% (annual variation rate)
      • Public sector (2016)
        • Budget balance / GDP: -5.4%
        • Public debt / GDP: 79.3%
        • Maximum tax rate:
          • Companies 40%
          • Individual 24%
      • Energy, communications, R&D
        • Composition of electricity generation: (% of total, 2014)
          • Hydropower 36.5%
          • Coal 25.7%
          • Oil 35.1%
          • Natural gas 0.0%
          • Nuclear 0.0%
          • Others 2.7%
          • Energy import: 50.3% (% of use, 2014)
        • Communications (2016):
          • Main telephone lines 114 per thousand inhabitants.
          • Mobile phones 1,185 per thousand inhabitants.
          • Individual Internet users: 321 per thousand inhabitants.
          • Research and development expenses / GDP: 0.1% per thousand inhabitants.