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Sri Lanka
Preface Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:22 AM

Often described as a "tropical paradise", the island nation of Sri Lanka has lush and dramatic coastal vegetation, and spectacular interior mountainous areas. Sea breezes temper the coast's tropical climate; the interior's hills and mountains register cool nighttime temperatures.

Your morale here depends on attitude and adaptability to life and conditions. If you can take differences, occasional inconveniences and frustrations in stride and in the spirit of adventure, a tour in Sri Lanka can prove stimulating and rewarding. The interplay of ethnic, religious, linguistic, economic, and ideological groups presents an opportunity for study and analysis of the forces that mold a developing country and its people.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:23 AM

A pear-shaped island in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka lies 18 miles from India at its closest point. Roughly the size of West Virginia, it has an area of 25,332 square miles, a length of 268 miles, a width of 139 miles. Located in the tropical zone between 5 N and 9 N and between 80 E and 82 E, its time zone is 11 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST) and 6 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Sri Lanka has many areas of scenic beauty and historic interest. The island consists of two main topographical sections: the mountainous south-central region which rises to 8,281 feet above sea level and the low-lying northern, eastern, and southwestern coastal plains. Dense vegetation covers a large part of Sri Lanka, particularly the southern and western coasts. Rubber and coconut trees grow in the midlands and lowlands, and the highlands have vast tea estates.

Sri Lanka has a varied effect on expatriates who remain on the island a considerable time without a break. People who like hot weather and are active in the types of activities which are readily accessible (tennis, golf, swimming) usually enjoy themselves and keep physically fit and mentally alert. Those accustomed to seasonal changes may find the tropical climate monotonous and enervating. In Colombo, temperatures rarely rise above 90 F or drop below 70 F; relative humidity varies from 70% during the day to 90% at night. The mountainous districts have an average day temperature of about 60 F, but at night it drops rapidly, sometimes to near freezing in winter in places such as Nuwara Eliya (altitude of 5,905 feet).

Monsoons produce two rainy seasons. The southwest monsoon lasts roughly from May to September. During this period, the southwestern part of the island, including Colombo, receives much of its average annual rainfall of 100 inches. The northeast monsoon, from about October or November through February, provides the northern and eastern parts of the island virtually all their average annual rainfall of 60 inches. Monsoon showers can become torrential in the Colombo area. December through March generally proves the driest period. Even with the massive Mahaweli hydroelectric and irrigation scheme, water shortages and interruptions of electricity at the end of the dry months still occur, although less frequently than in the past. Colombo has a climate similar to Washington, D.C.'s hot, humid summers. Even during the cooler December and January period, most Americans depend on electric fans or air-conditioning for comfort.

Population Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:24 AM

The population in 2003 was estimated at 19.7 million. The population growth rate of 1.3% is low by South Asian standards..

Approximately 74% of the population belongs to the Sinhalese ethnic group and speak Sinhala. Tamils constitute 18% of the population and speak the Tamil language. Most Tamils (approximately two-thirds) are "Ceylon Tamils" - citizens whose ancestors have lived in Sri Lanka for hundreds of years. The majority of these Tamils live in the northern and eastern provinces. The remaining third of the Tamil population consists of "Indian Tamils," whose ancestors came from south India in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to work on the tea and rubber plantations. Other minority groups include Muslims (including both Moors and Malays and totaling roughly 7% of the population) and Eurasians, who make up less than 1%. Most Sinhalese are Buddhists; most Tamils are Hindus. Christians, mostly Roman Catholic, constitute 7.5% of the population, and are present in both the Sinhalese and Tamil communities.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:25 AM

Over 450 years of foreign presence on the island (Portuguese, then Dutch, then British) have left their mark on government, administrative, and judicial institutions. Sri Lanka became independent in 1948 after nearly 125 years of British rule. It initially opted for dominion status in the Commonwealth like nearby India and Pakistan, but in 1972 formally became a democratic republic, with the office of governor general converted into a ceremonial presidency, with real power vested in parliament and in a prime minister. The 1972 constitution proclaimed Sinhala the official language (with provision for the use of Tamil) and Buddhism the foremost religion (with religious freedom guaranteed to all).

Following its overwhelming electoral victory in 1977, the United National Party (UNP) government decided to revamp the constitution. The 1978 constitution established an executive president elected for a 6-year term, serving as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, chief of state, and head of government. The new constitution also abolished the upper house of the legislature, and created a system of proportional representation as the basis for future parliamentary elections. The president appoints a prime minister and a cabinet of ministers responsible to a 225-seat unicameral legislature. The 1978 constitution elevated Tamil to the status of an official language.

Sri Lanka's legal system reflects the interplay of cultural influences. Criminal law is of British origin; civil law, a Dutch legacy; personal law (marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc.) varies by ethnic community. Hindus, Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists have their own family codes. The judiciary consists of a supreme court, authorized to give advisory opinions, a court of appeals, a high court, and a number of subordinate courts. The supreme court, composed of a chief justice and 6-10 associate justices, has original jurisdiction on all constitutional matters as well as election petitions, breach of parliamentary privilege, protection of fundamental rights, and other matters over which parliament has legislative power.

Communal tension reached a high point in July 1983 when the worst ethnic violence in the country's post-independence history occurred. Following the emotional funeral in Colombo of 13 Sinhalese soldiers killed in the northern Jaffna peninsula by Tamils fighting for a separate Tamil state, Sinhalese mobs took to the streets in Colombo and then in other areas. Hundreds of Tamils died in the ensuing violence with tens of thousands left homeless. The riots led to a burgeoning of Tamil militant groups in the north and east, and the eventual emergence of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as the major insurgent force committed to the creation of a separate Tamil state.

Concerns about the situation in Sri Lanka led to India's intervention in mid-1987, under the Indo-Lanka Accord that brought Indian troops to the island to reestablish order. Under the accords, the government of Sri Lanka made a number of concessions to Tamil demands including devolution of some powers to the provinces and merger (subject to later referendum) of the Northern and Eastern Provinces. India agreed to provide a peacekeeping force to establish order in the north and east and cease assisting Tamil insurgents.

Indian efforts to enforce peace fell apart. The LTTE within weeks declared its intent to continue its armed struggle for an independent Tamil Eelam. The 50,000 strong Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) found itself engaged in a bloody police action against the LTTE. After 2-1/2 years of conflict between the IPKF and LTTE, India withdrew its troops after suffering well over 1,000 battle deaths.

In addition to dealing with the ethnic conflict and LTTE, the government of Sri Lanka had to turn its attention to problems generated by radical Sinhalese youth in the south. The leftist-revolutionary Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), relatively quiet after its 1971failed insurrection, began to reassert itself in 1987. Capitalizing on opposition in the Sinhalese community to the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord, it launched a campaign using terrorist tactics and assassinations to bring the country to a standstill several times in 1988 and 1989. Thousands died in JVP-instigated violence. The deaths included government officials, members of political parties that supported the Accord, and innocent civilians. The government fought back, killing thousands of suspected JVP members, supporters, and their families. By late 1989, almost all the JVP party leadership had been killed or arrested. The JVP currently operates as a recognized political party and has declared its willingness to work within the existing political structure. It won ten seats in the parliamentary elections of 2000 and 16 seats in 2001.

The UNP's seventeen years in power ended in 1994, when the Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP) led a new coalition, the People's Alliance (PA), into power. The PA narrowly captured control of parliament and subsequently won the Presidency. The President, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, the daughter of Sirimavo and S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, both former prime ministers, won re-election in 1999. In August 2000, Mrs. Bandaranaike resigned as Prime Minister for health reasons, and Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka was appointed to take her place. In December 2001, the UNP assumed power, led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe. Chandrika Kumaratunga remains as president. Thus, two politically opposed parties govern Sri Lanka in a delicate cohabitation situation.

In December 2001, with the election of a new UNP government, the LTTE and government declared unilateral ceasefires. In February 2002, with Norwegian facilitation, the two sides agreed to a joint ceasefire accord. The peace process has continued apace, affecting Sri Lankans politically, economically, and socially in numerous and overwhelmingly positive ways. After holding six round of talks, the peace process bogged down in 2003, although as of mid-year, Norwegian-led efforts to revive talks continue.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:28 AM

The arts flourish in Sri Lanka. Exhibitions of paintings, sculpture and other artworks are regularly scheduled at the National Art Gallery and other private galleries. Jewelry designers compete internationally. In addition, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the Arts Council of Sri Lanka have made great strides in re-awakening traditional forms of drama, dance, music, and handicrafts. The University of Kelaniya, in Colombo, administers the Institute of Aesthetic Studies which awards undergraduate degrees in the fine arts.

Colombo has an amateur symphony orchestra. The American Center, British Council, German Cultural Institute and the Alliance Francaise offer a variety of library facilities and cultural programs. Amateur theater groups and choral groups welcome participation by expatriates.

Several universities have good science departments and there are special institutes for coconut, tea, rubber and rice research. The Ceylon Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research (CISIR), and the National Science Foundation(NSF), and the National Aquatic Resources Agency (NARA) also do high-level research.

On the education scene, Sri Lanka has a large network of primary and secondary schools and 21 teacher-training colleges. The Ministry of Higher Education directs 13 universities and five post-graduate institutes covering all of the major disciplines, including five universities with medical schools and teaching hospitals. Vocational and technical schools offer two-year degrees and one-year certificate programs in a variety of skills and trades. Privately-run management and technical programs have affiliations with U.S. universities. About 20,000 students attend the above-mentioned traditional universities, with an equal amount enrolled in part-time programs through the Open University of Sri Lanka which conducts distance education programs, many of them leading to degrees. University admissions are highly competitive due to a lack of space for a growing number of potential students. Applicants still experience delays in gaining admission to university due to a backlog of applicants created when the universities were shut down during political disturbances in the late 1980s. Due to bureaucratic and space constraints, almost no opportunities exist for Mission Americans to teach or study at the tertiary level in Sri Lanka.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:29 AM

With an economy of $16.6 billion, and a per capita GDP of about $872, Sri Lanka has mostly enjoyed strong growth rates in recent years. Sri Lanka began to shift away from a socialist orientation in 1977. Since then, the government has been deregulating, privatizing, and opening the economy to international competition. The ethnic disputes of 1983 precipitated a slowdown in economic diversification and liberalization. The JVP uprising in the late 1980s caused extensive upheavals and economic uncertainty. Following the quelling of the JVP, increased privatization, reform, and a stress on export-oriented growth helped revive the economy's performance, taking GDP growth to 7% in 1993. Economic growth has been uneven in the ensuing years as the economy faced a multitude of global and domestic economic and political challenges. Overall, average annual GDP growth was 5.2 percent over 1991-2000. In 2001, however, GDP growth was negative 1.4 percent - the first contraction since independence. The economy was hit by a series of global and domestic economic problems, and affected by terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and the United States. The crises exposed the fundamental policy failures and structural imbalances in the economy and the need for bold reforms. The year ended in parliamentary elections in December, which saw the election of a more pro-business government. The government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe of the United National Party (which also ruled the country from 1977 to 1994) has indicated a strong commitment to economic and social sector reforms, deregulation and private sector development. In 2002, Sri Lanka commenced a gradual recovery. Early signs of a peace dividend were visible throughout the economy-- Sri Lanka has been able to reduce defense expenditures and begin to focus on getting its large, public sector debt under control. In addition, the economy has benefited from lower interest rates, a recovery in domestic demand, increased tourist arrivals, a revival of the stock exchange and increased FDI. In 2002, economic growth bounced up to 4 percent, helped by strong service sector growth. Agriculture staged a partial recovery. Industrial sector growth, however, faltered for the second consecutive year due to weak demand and lower prices for Sri Lanka's exports. The Government was able to exert fiscal control and inflation trended down. Total foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows during 2002 were about $246 million, and are expected to exceed $300 million in 2003. The largest share of FDI has been in the services sector. Good progress was made under the Stand By Arrangement, which was resumed by the IMF. These measures, together with peaceful conditions in the country, have helped restore investor confidence and created conditions for the Government to embark on extensive economic and fiscal reforms and seek donor support for a poverty reduction and growth strategy.

Economic recovery is expected to consolidate during the rest of 2003 and GDP growth for the year is predicted at 5.5 percent, increasing to 6.5 percent in 2004. All major sectors of the economy are expected to expand. This growth will, however, depend on the continuation of the peace process, policy adjustments (particularly budgetary control) and structural reforms. Recovery in the global economy is also important as well as effective aid utilization. According to the Finance Minister, the fiscal deficit is forecast to decline to 7.5 percent of GDP in 2003, with the government instituting more controls on fiscal management. Given Sri Lanka's high debt burden (105 percent of GDP), fiscal consolidation is central to budget planning and macroeconomic programming. Stagnant government revenue, however, remains a big worry in 2003.

The future of Sri Lanka's economic health is uncertain, but largely dependent on the continuation of the peace process, political stability, and continued policy reforms (particularly in the area of fiscal discipline and direct management). Implementation of major reforms in the civil service and education sectors and more disciplined spending and improved revenue collection would help generate stronger economic growth. If privatization continues and export orientation strengthens, weaknesses in government will have less impact on growth. Real growth is expected to continue in the 4%-6% range beyond 2003, but may remain below the 8-9% growth needed to move quickly into the status of a middle-income or newly developed country.)

Other challenges include diversification from Sri Lanka's key exports, tea and garments. Garment exports will face increased competition in a quota-free era when the Multi Fiber Arrangement expires in 2005. The future of the tea industry is threatened by a shortage of plantation labor and growing competition. There are new efforts to diversify exports, explore tourism potential and improve competitiveness. The Government has an ambitious Information and Communications Technology strategy to connect and service every corner of the country. This project, if implemented successfully, could change Sri Lanka's economy and social fabric and would take it into the information age. The government hopes to take advantage of Sri Lanka's strategic location on shipping routes, make use of the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement, and sign free trade agreements with other countries, to achieve regional trading hub status. If peace returns and all these efforts bear fruit, real growth could be in the 6-7 percent range beyond 2004, and will help realize the Government's intention of making Sri Lanka the gateway to South Asia. In recent years, the government has eliminated many price controls and quotas, reduced tariff levels, eliminated most foreign exchange controls and sold over 55 state- owned companies and 20 estate-holding companies. Colombo boasts one of the most modern stock exchanges in the region, and the Sri Lankan Government offers a range of tax and other incentives to attract potential investors. Exports to the United States, Sri Lanka's most important market, were valued at $1.8 billion in 2002, or 38% of total exports. For many years, the United States has been Sri Lanka's biggest market for garments, taking more than 63% of the country's total garment exports. India is Sri Lanka's largest supplier, with exports of $835 million in 2002. Japan, traditionally Sri Lanka's largest supplier, was its fourth largest in 2002 with exports of $355 million. Other leading suppliers include Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea. The United States is the tenth-largest supplier to Sri Lanka; U.S. exports amounted to $218 million in 2002, according to Central Bank trade data (U.S. Customs data places U.S. exports to Sri Lanka at $166 million in 2002). Wheat accounted for 14% of U.S. exports to Sri Lanka in 2002, down from the previous year.

The opening of the Sri Lankan economy, particularly the growth of the tourist industry, during the 1980s fostered the development of a range of commercial establishments catering to the needs of foreign visitors and resident expatriates. Imported foodstuffs and other consumables are commonly available, although more expensive than in western nations. Incoming personnel should consult post before arrival, on the availability of particular food and household items.


Automobiles Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:31 AM

Despite heavy traffic (bicycles, other vehicles, and pedestrians), lack of spare parts, and indifferent servicing, an automobile for transportation within and outside Colombo remains essential for all employees. Sri Lankan roads are generally narrow and inadequately maintained.

The major Japanese manufacturers (Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and Honda) are represented in Sri Lanka. Ford (Australia, Germany, UK), Hyundai, Peugeot, Volkswagen and British Leyland have local dealerships. While parts and servicing are more readily available for the Japanese vehicles, in general, very few parts are stocked by dealers, so delays are common. Heavy-duty tires, batteries, suspensions, tropical radiators, air conditioning and extra undercoating against rust are worthwhile investments. Catalytic converters on newer models should be removed, since unleaded gasoline is not sold. The highest-rated gasoline is about 93 octane. Most trucks and four-wheel-drive vehicles burn diesel. Diesel is significantly cheaper than gasoline.

The Government of Sri Lanka requires that all vehicles be no more than three years old for importation and grants few exceptions to this requirement. Traffic moves on the left. In the past, exceptions had been given to diplomats to import left-hand drive (LHD) vehicles. However, this is no longer the case, so employees are not authorized to ship LHD vehicles to post. LHD vehicles may thus be shipped to the US for temporary storage. Delivery of cars ordered from Japan or Europe can take up to 3 months. Automobiles can be ordered and received from Singapore more quickly but at higher prices. Duty-free prices for new right-hand-drive Japanese vehicles purchased locally start at $12,000 for sedans and at $24,000 for four-wheel-drive vehicles. There is a reasonable secondary market for used cars at lower prices among the diplomatic community; however, availability fluctuates with transfers, with summer months being the best time to find a car. Used right-hand-drive cars may also be purchased from Japan through a local dealer at reasonable prices. The Motor Vehicles Department will not register cars with dark tinted glass in front driver and in front passenger side windows; employees therefore are not authorized to ship such a vehicle to post.

See Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property and Customs, Duties, and Passage for more information on POVs.

Current regulations allow Foreign Affairs agencies to fund shipment to the U.S. of foreign-made/purchased autos. Such vehicles must however meet U.S. safety and environmental standards before entry.

The Human Resources Office will assist employees in obtaining a local driver's license, and the General Services Office will assist in effecting vehicle registration. Third-party liability insurance is compulsory; Sri Lanka does not recognize foreign car insurance. Comprehensive coverage starts at about $100 a year for compact cars.

The Mission provides temporary transportation to and from work for newly-arrived personnel whose vehicles have not yet arrived, currently at a cost of $.74 per trip.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:32 AM

Trishaws (three-wheeled "taxis") are inexpensive and easily flagged-down, but unsafe. Cost should be negotiated before starting the trip. A trip from most mission residences to the embassy will cost just over a dollar. A similar trip in a radio-dispatched, air- conditioned, and metered taxi will cost approximately $2. The radio taxis are available only in Colombo and are reliable and clean.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:32 AM

Vehicles with drivers may be rented for excursion trips from commissioned companies. Costs are determined by number of days and distance. Foreigners rarely use the overcrowded and poorly maintained government and private bus system. The railway system, a government enterprise, provides reasonably satisfactory travel to a few points of interest on the island. Some rail routes offer first class cars with air-conditioning (or fans, if the a/c isn't functioning). However, trains remain crowded and unsanitary and are rarely used by Mission staff. A round-trip, first-class ticket to Kandy might cost approximately $5 - $6 and take about 3 hours on the express train. Short international flights make Bangkok and the Maldives long weekend possibilities for temporary escapes from this island. Round trip economy seating costs about $294 for Bangkok, and $156 to the Maldives at this writing.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:33 AM

Telephones are installed in all U.S. Government-owned and leased houses with International Direct Dial (IDD) service. Long-distance service and IDD service are available to all points in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, India, Australia, Japan, Europe, and the U.S. provided an advance deposit has been made. The Embassy has a direct-dial telephone available to American personnel for official calls and for personal calls on a reimbursable basis. Economy rates to the U.S. on a IDD call is currently Rs. 20/- (about U.S. $0.22) per minute. Callback services are available, some are offered at a cost as low as $.039 per minute. 1-800 and 1-880 numbers in the U.S. can be accessed using callback services. Though not as efficient, Net2Phone offers an inexpensive option and alternative to normal telephone service, at less than $0.10 per minute.

Internet Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:33 AM

Internet services are available in Colombo. It is a relatively new and fast growing industry here. Full unlimited service currently costs about $25 per month, plus local telephone toll charges. Various other service options, such as e-mail only and maximum per hour usage, are also available and range upwards from $10 per month. Some of the major hotels provide access for a fee in an "internet cafe" setting, and there is an independent "Cyber Cafe" providing access as well.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:34 AM

Airmail service to and from the U.S. via international mail averages 8-10 days. The cost for sending an international airmail letter to the U.S. is currently Rs. 22/- (U.S. $.24) per 10 grams and Rs. 13/- for each additional 10 grams. Postcards are Rs. 16/- for airmail and aerogrammes are Rs. 12/-. The Embassy's international mailing address is as follows: American Embassy P.O. Box 106 Colombo 3, Sri Lanka

The State Department pouch facilities are available to all American U.S. Government Direct Hire employees and their immediate families serving in Sri Lanka. Internationally recruited USPSC personnel (who meet guidelines set forth in SR 031.1) are authorized pouch facilities. TDY U.S. citizen contractors are allowed personal letter mail (maximum 1 pound). Merchandise parcels, magazines, or newspapers are not authorized for contractors. Mail is sent to and received from the U.S., in principle, two times a week through the State Department pouch. The approximate transit time for letters from Colombo to Washington, DC, and vice versa is a minimum of 8-15 days. Some pouch mail takes 3 weeks or more. Postal delivery from Washington DC to West coast destinations averages an extra 5-7 days. Letters sent through the pouch cost normal domestic postage per ounce.

The correct mailing address for letter mail is:

Official Mail: Name of Addressee AmEmbassy Colombo Department of State 6100 Colombo Place Washington, DC 20521-6100

Personal Mail: 6100 Colombo Place Dulles, VA 20189-6100

American employees of U.S. Government agencies and their immediate families in Sri Lanka are authorized to receive magazines, newspapers, parcels, etc. through the State Department's surface pouch airlift facilities. Magazines, catalogs, etc., must carry the 20521-6100 ZIP Code and a person's name instead of "occupant" printed on the label. Pouches are airlifted to and from Colombo twice a week. Parcels mailed in the U.S. take about 4-8 weeks to arrive in Colombo. The maximum weight for an incoming package is 45 pounds, and must not exceed 17x18x30 in dimension Outgoing packages from Colombo have a limit of 2 pounds. Unauthorized items such as liquids, perishables, firearms, explosives, or fragile items cannot be pouched.

There are several courier mail services, such as UPS, DHL and Federal Express, which are efficient and frequently used by U.S. Mission personnel.

Radio and TV Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:35 AM

Television transmission was initiated in 1978 and now, in 2003, has ten stations. Color is standard. The programming on 4 channels generally consists of locally produced shows in English, Sinhala, and Tamil and reruns of U.S. and U.K. serials in English. The BBC World Service, CNN, certain American sitcoms and soap operas are broadcast by other stations. Regular local news programs are broadcast in all three languages at different times. State owned TV Station (SLRC) operates 24 hours. Cricket matches tend to override many planned programs. BBC has a 24-hour day broadcasts via a cable service; CNN is also available via satellite reception. Reasonably good cable service with HBO, Cinemax (these differ from the US's HBO and Cinemax), Action, National Geographic and BBC is available at the current monthly rate of about US$10.00.

As Sri Lanka uses the PAL television system, U.S. sets cannot operate here except for viewing NTSC videotapes. Multi-system television sets may be purchased locally. Prices compare favorably with those in the U.S.

Most U.S. personnel have video-tape equipment at post-mainly VHS. Some personnel have the U.S. system and receive tapes from the U.S. Some belong to local tape clubs and rent tapes (VHS/PAL system only) at reasonable prices, although available supply remains dismal. The Employees' Recreation Association (AERAC) has a tape club with a good collection of NTSC (U.S. System) VHS tapes. AERAC is also looking into buying DVDs as more U.S. personnel have DVD players. DVD players are available in the local market at reasonable prices.

Radio broadcasting operates 7 days weekly, most of them from 6:00 a.m. until midnight. Programming covers local and international subjects and includes a great deal of popular western music, especially on the YES FM (89.5 FM) and TNL Radio (101.7 FM). TNL Lite at 89.2 offers adult contemporary programming 24 hours; from 12 midnight to 6.00am VOA music and news clippings go on air on TNL Lite. Some BBC programs and news features are relayed on local channels. Broadcasting is in English, Sinhala, and Tamil on short and medium wave and FM frequencies. Many interesting and informative programs are presented. Reasonably good worldwide radio reception is available on a short wave receiver. The BBC and VOA are popular short wave programs.

Those who enjoy listening to music should bring stereo equipment as well as compact discs, prerecorded and blank tapes. Local electric power is 240v, 50Hz. A voltage regulator will enhance the life of this equipment. A variety of stereo equipment, including boom boxes are available locally, as are limited selections of cassette tapes and CD's. There are some music compact disc rental stores that offer memberships and have a reasonably good collection to choose from.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:35 AM

Library facilities in Colombo have improved in the past few years. The American Center has a reference-only collection designed to meet the needs of Mission officers and official program contacts. The British Council's large 58,000-volume library includes a good selection of fiction. It subscribes to about 125 periodicals and newspapers. The Colombo Swimming Club operates a small library offering book selections to both children and adult members. The Community Liaison Office (CLO) also has a lending- library of donated popular and resource books.

Expatriates residing in Colombo can obtain membership at the Colombo Public Library by paying a refundable, one-time deposit. This membership allows borrowing privileges, reading room, and reference services. Without a membership, the periodical section of the reading room and reference services may be used for an annual admission fee of Rs.10/-. The library does not have a good selection of English language books and materials, but does maintain subscriptions to some English language periodicals including the American magazines Time, Newsweek, Fortune, Reader's Digest and Scientific American.

Several local bookstores carry a wide variety of literature, popular and resource books, and American and British popular magazines. Some current paperbacks are available at the large hotel book shops, but are expensive. Join a book club in the U.S. for a continuing supply of books.

Local newspapers can be delivered to your residence daily or picked up from newsstands. There are 3 daily and 4 Sunday newspapers in English.

Colombo newsstands sell current international editions of Time and Newsweek. The International Herald Tribune, USA Today International, and the Asian Wall Street Journal are also available commercially. Many personnel at post subscribe to favorite magazines and use Department mail facilities (ZIP Code 20521-6100) even though the transit time is 4-6 weeks. The Embassy and USAID subscribe to the International Herald Tribune and circulate copies among the staff.

The CLO produces the Mission newsletter, the "Rice N' Courier," which informs the American official community of activities, events, newcomer arrivals, automobiles for sale and domestics for hire. "The Linc," a grassroots magazine produced for the international community, has tips, reviews, and stories to help acclimate one to life in Sri Lanka.

Mildew, silverfish, and termites are a serious threat to books unless they are kept in air- conditioned rooms. Do not bring valuable volumes.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:36 AM

The Embassy's Health Unit, staffed by a full time Foreign Service Health Practitioner, a part time local physician, and a part time nurse, is on the first floor of the Chancery. It is open to official personnel during regular working hours. The Health Unit provides consultations and treatment for minor illness or injury, including suturing of minor lacerations, immunizations, routine maintenance care such as pap smears, assistance with medical referrals and evacuations, and supervision of the Embassy's preventive health programs.

The commissary usually carries a good supply of insecticides and repellents, and over- the-counter-drugs. Local hospitals are adequate only for emergency and intensive care services which cannot be delayed, and for non-invasive diagnostic studies e.g. x-rays and laboratory tests. Most physicians speak English; however, nurses and other support staff may not.

The Embassy Health Unit monitors all patients hospitalized locally and works closely with attending physicians. While certain health care problems can be treated at the health unit or by local specialists, official personnel and dependents with medical problems requiring more sophisticated treatment are usually evacuated to the regional medical center in Singapore. Local health facilities are generally crowded, poorly maintained and unsanitary.

Most Sri Lankan specialists are board-certified in the U.K. The regional medical officer is based in New Delhi and visits quarterly. The regional psychiatrist visits semiannually or annually. Both the RMO and RMO/P are available for telephonic and telegraphic consultation and will visit post on an emergency basis if required.

Dental care is not sophisticated. Orthodontia is generally not available. Employees and family members must have as much dental work as possible done before departure from the U.S. Employees and family members should plan on seeing their personal dentist on home leave, R&R, or vacation trips to the U.S.

Community Health Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:36 AM

Gastro-enteritis can be a problem if one eats out often. Hepatitis A is also prevalent. This is mainly due to contaminated food, water or ice. It is advisable to filter and boil or distill all drinking water as city water is not potable. Cook all meat thoroughly before eating, and wash and disinfect fruits and vegetables in a bleach solution.

Sri Lanka has many kinds of flying and crawling insects. Mosquitoes which carry malaria, Japanese B encephalitis, dengue fever, and filariasis are present. Though malaria is not present within Colombo, it is a problem in most parts of Sri Lanka, and chloroquine resistant malaria is prevalent in some districts. Dengue fever remains a serious threat to Mission staff year round in Colombo.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:36 AM

When planning to travel to areas outside of Colombo, check with the Health Unit to ascertain whether malaria prophylactic medicine is needed. Allowing water to sit in gardens and in flower pots should be avoided since these are prime breeding areas for mosquitoes carrying dengue fever. Keep immunizations up to date. Immunizations currently recommended besides the usual childhood immunizations include Hepatitis A and B and Japanese B Encephalitis.

Pharmaceutical supplies from American companies are not always available, so bring an adequate amount of first-aid supplies and medicine including sunscreens, birth control pills and commonly used cold remedies. Regularly used prescription medicines for chronic illnesses may be received via diplomatic pouch by prior arrangement with U. S. pharmacists.

Snakes, both poisonous and nonpoisonous, are found in Sri Lanka. Yards and lawns around houses must be maintained by keeping grass cut and leaves cleared, which helps to deter nesting of snakes. Parents with small children must exercise special caution as to safe play areas outdoors although no Americans have been bitten. The Health Unit maintains a stock of snakebite serum, which if needed, is best administered in a hospital setting.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:37 AM

A bilateral work agreement was negotiated with the U.S. and Sri Lankan Governments. Spouses of direct-hire American employees are allowed to hold employment on the local economy. However, opportunities are few. While some teaching and tutoring positions may be available, salaries are very low by US standards. The Embassy is committed to providing as many full-time, part-time and single-project opportunities for spouses as is possible within existing resources and regulations.

During the past years, the Mission has employed a number of spouses as full time Community Liaison Office (CLO) Coordinator, secretaries, retail price surveyors, security escorts, information management assistants, bus monitors, etc. It is recommended that spouses keep their resumes current and to bring all relevant work history documents to post with them. Certain talents which lend themselves to free- lance employment are likely to be quite beneficial. Writing and editing are other possibilities. All freelance employment demands an extra degree of effort on the part of the individual.

Teenage summer employment is available through the Department of State's Summer Hire program, which permits the post to employ a few dependents from all agencies for a short time each summer.

For more information on the status of current opportunities for both spouse and teenage employment, please contact the Human Resources Officer or the CLO.

American Embassy - Colombo

Post City Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:37 AM

Colombo is on a flat coastal plain on the southwestern side of the island. The city grew up around the harbor, which has been expanded by a breakwater. The main business section is near the port in what is known as the Fort (the old fort walls no longer remain). The buildings in this area are typically British and Dutch colonial, and the streets are generally congested. Parking is a problem. The Pettah, or traditional bazaar area adjoining the main business area, consists of a series of narrow, crowded streets and small shops and stalls.

Main residential areas are south and southeast of the business area and are generally pleasant. Traffic congestion, unplanned construction, along with closed streets due to added security measures, make it impossible to walk or otherwise enjoy the neighborhood.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:38 AM

The U.S. Mission is comprised of officers and employees of the Department of State, USAID, Department of Defense, and IBB (formerly VOA). The Library of Congress maintains an office staffed by two contract Sri Lankan employees. The Embassy's Administrative Section provides general services functions to all Mission agencies. The Community Liaison Office (CLO) serves all agencies.

The American Ambassador is the highest-ranking U.S. official, followed by the DCM. IBB has an Operations office headed by a Station Manager and a Projects Office headed by a Construction Engineer/Manager. The USAID Mission is headed by a Director.

The Chancery is at 210 Galle Road, Colombo 3, near the junction of Galle Road and Kollupitiya, telephone (94)(1) 2448007, fax (94)(1) 2437345. All State Department offices(except for Public Diplomacy), the Defense Attache, CLO, the Library of Congress, and the AERAC Commissary are housed in the Chancery. The State Department has 23 direct-hire American employees in the Embassy and there are currently eight FMA and one part-time PSC positions occupied by spouses. The Defense Attache Office is staffed by a Lt. Col. and one Department of Defense staff personnel.

The USAID offices, telephone (94)(1) 2472855, fax (94)(1) 2472850 / 2472860, are located at 44 Galle Road, Colombo 3, about 5 minutes from the Chancery. The USAID staff includes two direct hire Americans, two US Personal Services Contractors, two locally-recruited Amcit PSCs and 22 Sri Lankan employees. USAID/Sri Lanka administers the U.S. Foreign Assistance Program in Sri Lanka, established in 1950, which has, to date, provided assistance totaling more than $ 1.69 billion in development, food, housing guaranty, and disaster relief assistance. The current strategy of the USAID program is to support Sri Lanka in becoming a peaceful, reconciled society, and in achieving broad based sustainable growth. USAID is doing this by helping to strengthen democracy and human rights, and by supporting Sri Lanka's economic growth goals by helping to increase Sri Lankan competitiveness in the global marketplace. USAID is also providing humanitarian assistance to address needs of those affected by the ongoing conflict and a small grants program from USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives to foster a peace dividend at the community level. The Mission also participates in South Asia Regional Energy, Environment and Gender Equity programs. Currently averaging about $16 million annually, the U.S. Foreign Assistance Program consists of USAID grant assistance and PL 480 Title I assistance through concessional loans to purchase U.S. wheat; wheat donated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Foreign Assistance Act 416(b) program.

The American Center (including the Information Resource Center, telephone [94] (1) 2332725, fax [94] (1) 2437662) is also housed at 44 Galle Road, Colombo 3, telephone [94] (1) 2421624, fax [94] (1) 2449070, e-mail:, and is about 3 blocks from the Chancery. The United States-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission is located at 7 Flower Terrace, Colombo 7. Telephone [94] (1) 2564176, fax [94] (1) 2564153; e-mail:

The Mission workweek is Monday - Thursday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.; Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 12 p.m. Diplomatic officers of Embassy Colombo are accredited to the Republic of the Maldives.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:39 AM

While most arriving personnel move immediately or within a few days into their permanent quarters, some may be temporarily assigned to transient quarters. For those who must stay in a hotel, the Hilton, Hilton JAIC, and the Colombo Plaza are the ones most frequently used.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:39 AM

All housing in Colombo is U.S. Government-owned or leased and government- furnished. New arrivals usually are provided suitable permanent quarters well within the period of temporary living allowances. Housing is assigned by the inter-agency housing board on the basis of rank and family size. IBB employees are generally assigned to housing in Negombo, a one hour drive north of Colombo, due to the location of the transmitter site which is one hour north of Negombo. However, if a family has children at the Overseas School of Colombo, they may be assigned housing in Colombo (for reasons of commuting) funded by IBB.

The Embassy currently owns twelve residences and maintains short-term leases for the balance of Mission housing requirements. The Embassy leases three apartments. All residences are single family homes, each different in style and age. Most residences have 3 to 4 bedrooms and all are secured with alarms. Houses are located in mixed residential areas within a few miles of the Chancery. Older homes often require constant maintenance, but can be quite charming with high ceilings and teak or parquet flooring. Leaky roofs are common in the monsoon season. Gardens and lawns, when they do exist, tend to be small and cramped. Almost all houses have servants quarters. Many residential areas have some commercial properties located near by, making access and parking on the street difficult at times.

The Office of Foreign Buildings maintains briefing books on the following senior officer residences:

The Ambassador's residence-Jefferson House-is in one of the better sections of Colombo, about 2-1/2 miles from the Chancery, on 1-1/2 acres of land with a garden of tropical trees, spices, flowers, shrubs, and lawns. This is a charming, old, two-story house with a reception hall, dining room, two drawing/reception rooms, a small drawing room which can also be a guest bedroom, guest bathrooms, a large verandah downstairs, and a terrace. The kitchen, pantry/storeroom, servants' quarters, laundry, and double garage are located along a one-story wing extending to the rear. The dining room table seats 24. The upstairs has four bedrooms, three baths, a sitting room, and a storeroom. The residence is fully furnished with basic furniture including lamps and area carpets. Bring personal pieces and pictures. The supply of glassware, china, silverware, kitchen utensils, table linens, and bed linen is adequate for representational use. The residence is equipped with a complete modern kitchen, a washer and dryer, and an emergency generator.

The DCM's home is located about 5 blocks from the Ambassador's residence. Its lot is slightly over ¬ acre and includes an attractive garden. The ground floor consists of a large entrance hall, a moderate-sized drawing room, an enclosed verandah/sitting room, a guest bedroom with bath and powder room, a large dining room, pantry, storeroom, kitchen, two-car garage, and servants' quarters. Upstairs are three bedrooms, three baths, a study, and spacious hallway opening on a second enclosed verandah overlooking the front lawn and the street. Bring decorations, pictures, and small electrical appliances. The house has gas and electric stoves, two refrigerators, two freezers, a washer and dryer, and an emergency generator.

The two-story house currently assigned to the PAO is near the Chancery . The grounds include a small garden. The ground floor consists of a large drawing room, small den, large dining room, bath, kitchen, garage, laundry room, and servants' quarters. Upstairs are five bedrooms, a den, three baths, storeroom, and balconies on three sides. Closet space is ample. Bring decorations.

Furnishings Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:40 AM

All basic furniture and major appliances are provided in government owned and leased quarters; i.e., water filters, stove, refrigerator, microwave, freezer, washer, dryer, air- conditioners, two voltage regulators, vacuum cleaners, and floor polishers. All homes are authorized air-conditioners for family living and dining areas, occupied bedrooms, and food storage room. Kitchens and servants quarters are not air-conditioned. The Embassy provides transformers for government-owned appliances and two transformers for employee-owned small appliances. Draperies are provided as required. Material may be purchased locally. Bring all small appliances, preferably 220v (radios, phonographs, iron, mixers, toasters, etc.) Also, bring an ironing board, pillows, and sheets as the locally made sheets do not fit American-size beds. You may wish to bring a few pieces of furniture such as chairs, bookcases, and end tables to fill the house. Hot water is via electric water heaters in kitchen, bath, and laundry. Telephones are available in all residences at inexpensive monthly rates.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:40 AM

Electricity is 220v, 50-cycle, AC, and is fairly reliable although extended power outages occur. Each house is outfitted with a standby generator. Voltage fluctuates considerably and expensive equipment should be protected with voltage stabilizers. Surge protectors and UPS' are essential for computers and can be bought locally. Phonographs and tape recorders must be adjusted to 50 cycles. Most 110V appliances without electrical motors can be used with transformers, however, it is important to note that plugs in use are British standard round three-pin. Adapters are available locally.

Food Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:41 AM

A variety of seasonal, fresh fruits and vegetables are available in the local markets at reasonable prices. Some vegetables are similar to those in temperate climates including potatoes, tomatoes, leaf lettuce, leeks, green beans, carrots, eggplant, cucumbers, spinach, parsley, beets, cabbage, celery, onions, okra, bean sprouts, squash, pumpkin, green peppers, shitake mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini. Local tropical fruits such as bananas, pineapple, rambutan, papaya, and mango are found in abundance in season. Apples, oranges, kiwis, and grapes are imported and sold at high prices. Soak all raw or unpeeled fruits and vegetables in a bleach/water solution to reduce the danger of amoebic or other parasitic infestation.

Crab, shrimp, and fresh fish are sold in the local markets. Lobster is available, but expensive. Local chicken, beef, and pork are generally available and reasonably priced. The cuts of beef differ greatly from those in the U.S. Considerably more expensive imported chicken, beef and lamb of good quality are also available in the local supermarkets.

The recreation association commissary (AERAC) is currently open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. A refundable deposit of $200 per family or $100 per single is charged to join AERAC.

AERAC does not order a frozen container from the US anymore. Many people use local meats (beef, lamb, pork, goat) and poultry. The quality is fairly good; however, the beef does not taste the same as USDA grade. Turkeys are normally ordered in advance of the holiday season from a local supermarket which gets "Norbest" Turkeys from the US.

AERAC usually has butter, margarine, cheeses (Swiss, American, cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, ricotta), instant/dry milk and long life milk (skim or whole), and cream cheese. The local supermarkets carry imported butter, margarine, fruit yogurt, sour cream, local and a limited supply of imported cheeses, dry milk, canned milk, long-life milk, canned and bottled cream, fresh yogurt, buffalo curd, local and imported ice cream, and fresh eggs.

AERAC carries a variety of cookies and snack crackers available. Nuts, potato chips, corn chips and similar items, puddings, ice cream toppings, granola bars, candy, gum, and a limited selection of Mexican foods, are also available in AERAC and locally, though you won't usually find walnuts or pecans locally. The local market has fresh white and wheat breads, a local variety of hamburger and hot dog buns, various cakes and rolls. The major hotels and a few independent restaurants have sophisticated bakeries.

Tuna fish, salmon, ham, sandwich spreads, and a good selection of fruits, vegetables and soups are available in AERAC. Canned goods in local stores are generally imported from the U.K. or Australia and are very expensive and of limited variety.

Mustard, ketchup, relishes, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, maple syrup, honey, molasses, olives, pickles, red and white vinegar, mayonnaise and a good variety of salad dressings, peanut butter, jams and jellies are available in AERAC. All but molasses and maple syrup are also available locally.

Coca Cola, Diet coke, diet Pepsi, caffeine-free Coke; 7-Up, Pepsi, ginger ale, root beer, orange soda, tonic, soda water, frozen juices, canned fruit drinks, cocoa, coffee, teas, beer, wine and liquor are available in AERAC. Coffee, tea, and locally produced sodas, including Coca Cola and Pepsi, are available locally, and are inexpensive.

AERAC stocks all-purpose white flour, whole wheat flour, cornmeal, sugar, rice, pastas, dried beans, cereals, vegetable and olive oils, shortening, baking soda and powder, cornstarch, and yeast. Also, cake, muffin and cookie mixes, frosting, a variety of chips, baking chocolate, Bisquick, pie crust mix, pie shells, and fruit pie fillings. The local market has a reliable supply of rice, pasta, sugar, flour and yeast.

AERAC carries most staple spices available in the U.S. market. Most mission members use spices from the local spice market that is less expensive. Ginger, dill, garlic, cardamom, cassia, cinnamon, cloves, mace, nutmeg, pepper, turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, fennel, chili powder, garam masala, mustard, curry spices, and fresh basil are all available and inexpensive. The local cinnamon and nutmeg are particularly good.

U.S. brands of baby formula are not usually available through the local market but can be ordered through AERAC. European and British brands can be found which are less expensive than U.S. brands, and are good. The same is true for dry, ready-to-mix cereals: acceptable British and European brands can be found locally; U.S. brands can be ordered through AERAC. If you are nursing and think a breast pump may be needed, you should bring it with you.

Juices and prepared baby foods can be found in local supermarkets, but are very expensive and sometimes outdated. Many people make their own baby food from locally available fruits and vegetables.

AERAC usually has a supply of pet food available, as well as dog shampoo and flea collars. Most favorite brands of food may be ordered through AERAC. Local supermarkets sporadically carry dog and cat food supplies, worming pills, dog shampoo, collars and leashes. The variety seems to increase with time.

Personnel assigned to Colombo are currently authorized to ship consumables (6 FAM 162.5). Newly assigned personnel wishing to place an order in the U.S. before arrival at post should make arrangements through the Transportation Office, OPR/STP, in the Department. The Community Liaison Office coordinators will send each employee a list of consumer items available in Colombo, along with the CLO welcome letter, to review before making such a shipment. U.S. Government policy precludes shipment of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products as consumables. Mission personnel may place group orders by case lots through AERAC for dry and canned goods from the U.S. A 2-4 month wait between placement of orders and delivery in Colombo is typical. Members may charge the cost of shipping dry and canned goods orders to their consumable allowances. Consult General Services on time restrictions.

Clothing Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:42 AM

Clothing worn in Washington, D.C., during the hottest summer weeks is suitable year- round in Colombo. Due to the growth of malls and shops in Sri Lanka, a variety of clothing in styles and fabrics can be purchased. However, items such as cotton socks and nylon hose are generally impossible to find, so personnel are encouraged buy a suitable supply before coming to post. You can supplement clothing needs by ordering from U.S. catalogs or by hiring a tailor. When traveling upcountry (altitude 4,000-6,500 feet) in Sri Lanka, warmer clothing is necessary. Generally, this means long-sleeved blouses, a sweater or two, heavyweight slacks, flannel shirts, a raincoat or windbreaker, and good walking shoes. Hosiery or tights are suggested for this cool climate. Warm sleepwear is also recommended. A couple of shops in Sri Lanka offer warm clothing which can be bought at very reasonable prices, so stocking up is not necessary.

Bring several pairs of well-made shoes for daytime wear and casual events, preferably leather or man-made material sandals, which are most comfortable in the heat. For those who play sports, tennis, running, and golf shoes should be brought to post. Evening sandals with medium to low heels are also advisable. Closed-toe high heels tend to be uncomfortable in Sri Lanka's climate. Satin or cloth-covered shoes do not fare well and tend to deteriorate during the first rainy season. Corrective footwear or specially-made shoes are not available in Colombo, but some personnel have had success in having ordinary shoes copied at a very reasonable price. When buying shoes to wear in Sri Lanka, remember that standing for several hours in the tropical climate makes feet swell. Therefore, low heels and open toes are generally the most comfortable. In terms of numbers, a minimum of two to four pairs of casual shoes, four pairs of comfortable sandals to wear with day or evening dresses and one or two pairs of formal shoes are recommended. A pair or two of tennis shoes and golf shoes, for those who play those sports, are also recommended. Shoes can be purchased in Sri Lanka, but the quality is not that good; and where quality is good, prices are high. It is also important to note that some shoe sizes are not available. Baby shoes are almost non-existent.

A wide variety of sewing fabrics is available in Colombo (cotton, silk, French chiffon, and polyester), but they may not please all tastes. Those who are serious sewers should bring zippers, thread and buttons. They can be purchased locally, but are usually not up to U.S. standards. Trim, elastic, lace, snaps, etc., can all be purchased locally and are of reasonable quality, especially lace. Some local dressmakers work in the customer's home and use his/her sewing machine while others work in their own homes or shops; quality tends to vary greatly so select a dressmaker with care.

Dry-cleaning facilities are available in the large Colombo hotels and many women have had silk and rayon dresses cleaned at local hotels with good results although the quality is not always consistent. Bring wash-and-wear items if possible to simplify cleaning, especially for children's clothing. Extreme dampness during the monsoon season can cause clothes and shoes to mildew unless kept in air-conditioned rooms. Embroidery handwork on clothing, lingerie and table linen is done in several convents. Bring a supply of materials and embroidery thread if interested in such work. Clothing may not last as long in Sri Lanka as in the U.S. due to the tropical climate and frequent laundering which shortens the useful life of most clothing. Underwear, particularly with elastic, tends to wear out quickly. Bring a supply of cotton underwear as good quality underwear is hard to find locally.

Men Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:42 AM

Dark business suits are worn for presentation of credentials and for similar official occasions (using British terminology, this is referred to as a lounge suit). Formal attire is used infrequently, perhaps once or twice a year, but it is essential for such functions as the Marine Ball and the AMCHAM Ball.

Sports shirts and dress slacks are appropriate for many social occasions. Bring one or two dark suits for evening wear. Hats are never worn. Office attire is more casual than that in Washington, D.C. A dress shirt, usually with a tie is most frequently worn. A jacket or suit is expected for calls on high-ranking local officials.

Women Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:43 AM

Living, working and entertaining on a tropical island such as Sri Lanka, most women find that cool summer-weight dresses and skirts and blouses of cotton or cotton- blends are their most useful wardrobe standbys. Light weight summer slacks are also worn by many women for shopping and sightseeing. Culottes or Bermuda shorts are recommended for golf and are acceptable daytime wear, provided they are of modest length. Sun dresses and sleeveless dresses are also comfortable and acceptable for both day and evening. Women are not expected to, and don't usually, wear hosiery at any functions, social or business, although some do occasionally wear hose to the office or for an indoor party. Women's office attire in Sri Lanka is similar to that of a southern U.S. city, i.e. tailored dresses or skirts and blouses. A matching two-piece summer suit with a blouse, while certainly acceptable, is seldom seen in Sri Lanka due to the heat and humidity. Women's daytime wear for meetings, morning coffees, or luncheons is basically the same as office wear.

For those who like to play tennis or plan to take it up the sport in Sri Lanka, U.S. tennis wear is appropriate on the tennis courts. Swimming is also popular. Chlorine and saltwater are very hard on swimming suits, so bring two or three suits. Items such as swimsuits and tennis clothes are not always available locally and are best bought in the U.S. Sarongs, used as beach cover-ups, are widely available.

Home entertaining is frequent in Sri Lanka and there are appreciably more occasions to "dress-up" than is the norm for most women living in Washington, D.C. However, dress for evening entertaining among expatriates is seldom formal, and most women wear either lightweight summer or cocktail dresses. To outdoor evening entertainment many women find cotton or cotton-blends most comfortable for evening wear. For dinners in air-conditioned houses, silk, rayon or polyester dresses are also comfortable. Sri Lankan women wear silk sarees for evening social occasions, so silk and rayon dresses are often more appropriate than cotton for evening wear where Sri Lankans are present. Most Sri Lankan homes will not have air-conditioned dining or drawing rooms. There are perhaps two or three occasions a year where formal wear or very dressy attire may be called for in Sri Lanka. At least one or two evening dresses may be useful to have on hand, an alternative may be to bring some good material and have a evening dress made by a local dressmaker. However, some have not been happy with the results. The principal occasions when a formal dress is useful are the Marine Ball in November and the AmCham Ball in February. The amount of clothing to bring to Sri Lanka is really a matter of personal choice. However, two points that are useful to keep in mind are that clothes tend to wear out more quickly in a tropical climate and the same seasonal clothing is worn all year long. Regarding undergarments, bring plenty of cotton underwear to post.

Children Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:44 AM

A wardrobe planned for a child for summer in the U.S. will be appropriate for the climate, but not adequate in quantity. The same clothes are worn year-round and children commonly go through two changes of clothing a day. Also, more frequent washing shortens the life of most garments. Most children go to the Embassy recreation center where there is a pool, a club or hotel several times a week year-round necessitating a half-dozen swimsuits per child per tour. There are very good brands of children clothing, as well as swimsuits for both boys and girls, available locally at low prices, so there is no need to stock up.

Uniforms are not required at the Overseas School of Colombo (OSC) in either the primary or senior school. At all grade levels, most students wear T-shirts and shorts. Girls in the senior school occasionally wear skirts, blouses, or dresses, while the older boys will sometimes wear regular shirts and long trousers. All children will have occasion to dress more formally. Upon arrival at OSC, each child is assigned to a "house" for P.E. classes and sports events. Along with plain white shorts, they wear one of four colors of T-shirts to all P.E. classes which, depending on grade level and class schedule, can be from two to five times a week. The school sells both T-shirts and shorts at reasonable prices. A child will need several sets each year. Physical education uniforms are navy blue running shorts and white T-shirts for all children.

Shoes are always a special consideration. Most boys wear tennis shoes to school and girls wear tennis shoes, flats, and loafers. Girls' sandals must have backs, i.e. no flip flops. Both wear sandals for more casual wear and shoes for what passes as "dressing up" on the island. It is recommended that you bring shoes in several styles and several sizes for each child. Locally made shoes, while of reasonable price, can be uncomfortable and wear out rather rapidly. Parents should also bring a supply of cotton socks, particularly in white. Underwear is a category for which foresight is also recommended. Various types are available locally, but they may not meet needs in style, comfort, or durability. American shoes can be ordered as needed. A good variety of baby clothing is usually available at the factory outlet shops. Parents should strongly consider bringing diapers (very expensive locally), baby bottles, playpen, a baby pool, stroller, food grinder, and all bedding. A fair supply of attractive infant and toddler toys is available, but the price and safety features may not meet American standards.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:45 AM

The AERAC stocks a few deodorants and soaps; and some toiletries of limited selection are available on the local market. However, those who have special brand preferences should bring a supply of toiletries, cosmetics, home medicines, feminine personal needs, and sewing notions.

Before leaving the U.S., arrange for a regular supply of known needs in prescription drugs. The Health Unit stocks a limited supply of over-the-counter drugs to meet immediate needs only. Other pharmaceutical requirements can be ordered from the U.S.

A supply to last a tour of first-aid needs such as cotton, band-aids, gauze, adhesive tape, antiseptic, and a 2-year supply of any patent medicine commonly used by the family are recommended; an alternative is to make mailing arrangements with a U.S. pharmacy. Bring your own contact lens care products with you. They are rarely available locally.

Some basic household supplies are available here, but bring a home repair kit. Saucepans, baking dishes, cake tins, frying pans, and plastic kitchen containers are generally available but often not up to U.S. quality or are very expensive. Cutlery and glassware are available but expensive. While water filter/distiller is provided as part of US-government furnishing in USG-owned and leased housing, an inexpensive, large pot for boiling water is also recommended. This can be purchased locally or imported. A manual meat grinder is useful because locally ground meat is of poor quality. Locally made dishes and export-quality Noritake china are also available here at lower prices than in the U.S.

Local products are available for cleaning bathtubs, wash basins, toilet bowls, and windows. Some Christmas decorations are available, but bringing a basic stock of such items is recommended. Consider an artificial Christmas tree, as well. The local cypress trees don't hold much appeal to the American sense of a Christmas tree. Stationery, bridge tallies, playing cards, candles, photograph albums, silver and pewter polish, special entertaining needs and needlework supplies should be brought. Batteries for most cameras, watches, and small electronics are available.

Basic Services Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:45 AM

Dry-cleaning facilities are available, but only the large hotels offer acceptable service. AERAC offers drop off and pickup services at the Chancery.

Local tailoring is available for men's casual shirts and trousers. Fabric selection is limited. Dressmakers are available at reasonable fees for making women's and children's clothing and men's shirts. However, local seamstresses are not that good at copying and making formal gowns from catalogues. Normally, dressmakers do not work in their customers' homes; those who do, do not use their own sewing machine. You usually supply your own choice of notions, such as zippers, buttons, thread. Patterns, as in Butterick, Simplicity, etc., are not used here. Dressmakers will make clothing from pictures or drawings, or copy other articles of clothing, but quality varies. Fittings and alterations are often necessary.

Shoe repair is done by hand and is adequate and inexpensive. Shoes, particularly sandals, can also be made inexpensively, though that practice is no longer common. In Colombo, a number of beauticians are familiar with western styling. Hair coloring, frosting, and perms are available at some beauty parlors, which usually use European or Australian products. Personal supplies of hair products can be brought, and the beauticians will use these if preferred.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:46 AM

Most personnel employ domestic help. A small household will often hire a combination cook/houseboy or a cook and a houseboy or housemaid, and a part-time gardener if the house has a garden. Total wages for these servants will average about $180 - $250 per month. A nursemaid (nanny) charges about $80-100 a month. A larger family (two or more children) will probably employ a full-time cook, a house boy/housemaid, a nursemaid for the children, a part-time gardener, and a driver. Total cost will be about $400 a month. Some employ laundry nannies on a weekly basis at an added cost of $30 - $40 a month. Many employees also hire drivers at an average salary of $100 a month, and night guards for about $70 per month. Uniforms and incidental medical bills are often covered by the employer (though medical care is free to Sri Lankans, medicines and lab tests usually are not). Other amenities are a personal choice; most people pay extra for nighttime party duty, and tea and breakfast or other meals.

Severance pay is expected at a rate of 1 month's salary per each completed year of service. If the domestic is being let go "for cause" (stealing, breakage, etc.), severance is not paid. Religious Activities English is spoken in many of the larger Christian churches. Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Christian Science, Mormon, Seventh- Day Adventist, and Dutch Reformed Churches are all represented. Sri Lanka has no Orthodox churches and no synagogues. There are Islamic mosques and Hindu temples in Colombo, and Buddhist temples abound.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM

English is spoken in many of the larger Christian churches. Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Christian Science, Mormon, Seventh-Day Adventist, and Dutch Reformed Churches are all represented. Sri Lanka has no Orthodox churches and no synagogues. There are Islamic mosques and Hindu temples in Colombo, and Buddhist temples abound.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:48 AM Children of most foreign diplomats and business expatriates resident in Colombo attend the Overseas School of Colombo (OSC). At present, the school has an enrollment of about 310 children representing over 35 nationalities. Americans represent 9% of the total student population. The school offers a strong international curriculum geared for students likely to return either to the U.S. or western European academic settings. The school, offering classes from pre-school through grade 12, has about 51 teachers, roughly half are fully qualified expatriates, many with advanced degrees. Sri Lankan teachers are now required to have full degree qualifications and all faculty members' skills are constantly being upgraded by a comprehensive professional development program. Primary school consists of grades pre-school-5; middle school 6-8, and high school, grades 9-12.

The Overseas School of Colombo is located on a six-acre campus owned by the school. The campus is four miles from most Embassy residences; AERAC provides bus service to Mission school children. The school is self-funded with tuition. In addition, it receives support by grants from the Office of Overseas Schools (A/OS). OSC is internationally accredited and one of only three schools in the region accredited by both the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the European Council of International Schools.

OSC is an active member of the Near East/South Asia Council of Overseas Schools (NE/SA) and arranges for short-term consultants from the council to address specific needs. OSC is also a member of the European Council of International Schools (ECIS) and the Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE). The school conducts the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, if requested, in the lower grades and prepares candidates for the British International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) in grades nine and ten, and for the International Baccalaureate (IB) in grades eleven and twelve. The school is introducing the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program for grades 6-10 to replace the IGCSE program over the next few years. Public examination results (for the IGCSE and IB) over recent years have been of high standard and children completing school at OSC can be expected to compete favorably with their peers for entrance into college, with IB diploma holders likely to have access to top colleges. Grade twelve and grade ten transfer students will face some challenges entering during the second year of the IBCSE and IB programs and will generally participate in only a limited way in those programs. Such students are allowed to join grade ten and twelve, however, and have done well following a "standard" high school diploma program.

Facilities are available for the administration of the SAT and PSAT tests. OSC also offers a sports program and numerous other extra-curricular activities. The school offers French and Spanish as the main foreign languages in grades seven through ten. If there are not enough students for a Spanish class, students may accomplish this via an independent study. Sinhala is also offered as a self-study program. Beginning Japanese is also available for grades eleven and twelve. Students are able to follow mother-tongue courses for the IB diploma in grades 11 and 12. OSC also offers an extensive English course as a Second Language program for non-native speakers. The information technology program is the most advanced in Sri Lanka. There is a large computer lab, multi-media technology, computers in primary classrooms and computer skills development is integrated into classroom subject teaching.

OSC follows a two-semester school year starting in the second half of August and ending mid-June. Parents should bring as detailed records as possible from their children's previous school(s), and a health record is required at the time of admission. Placement at grade level is based on an internally administered test. While the school provides guidance by learning and disability specialists, the physical layout of the campus makes it impossible for the school to accept children whose physical handicaps confine them to a wheel chair.

Although the school does not have a specific uniform, there is a dress code, and students are expected to dress neatly. For physical education, navy shorts and a T- shirt (available for purchase from the school) are required.

The "At Post" educational allowance covers a non-refundable registration fee of $2000, a one-time refundable deposit of $277 for grades K-5 and $554 for grades 6-12 that must be paid when a child is first registered at OSC, and an annual capital development levy of $500. The employee must sign an agreement to return the refundable deposit to the U.S. Government before the refundable deposit is paid to the school. Questions on schools or enrollment should be directed to the Embassy Administrative Officer or the Community Liaison Office.

Children of Mission personnel may also choose to attend the Colombo International School (CIS), a private British curriculum school with 750 students from 34 countries, although there have been no enrollment in recent years by Mission children. Twenty percent of the students are non-Sri Lankan. CIS was founded in 1982 and offers classes for students 2 to 18 years of age. There are about 125 teachers at the school, of which 50% are expatriates. All teachers have overseas degrees and/or teaching experience and a majority of the expatriate teachers are Oxford or Cambridge graduates. Courses are conducted in the English medium. Admission is very competitive and based on proof of academic accomplishment and potential, personal interviews, and entrance examinations. Extracurricular activities are an important part of school life and sports, music and drama are included in the school program. Uniforms are required and can be purchased in Colombo. CIS is not popular among Mission parents because the classrooms tend to be more crowded than those at OSC, and the school compound is not as spacious to accommodate a playground area and sports activities.

While CIS offers SAT, TOEFL, and achievement test classes to prepare students for admission to American universities, it does place emphasis on preparing students for O and A level examinations. CIS does not carry accreditation.

Children of the Mission may also choose to attend the French School and the British school, which are located in the heart of Colombo. Courses at the French school are conducted exclusively in French and follow the curriculum set in France. Children may also attend the British school, which follows the British system. Neither the French school nor the British schools are U.S.-accredited

Away From Post Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:49 AM High school-age children of American employees have attended various boarding schools in the U.S. instead of attending OCS or CIS. Some of the schools that have been attended are: Northfield Mt. Hermon (MA), Philips Exeter Academy (NH), The George School (PA), The Lawrenceville School (NJ), and The Stoney/Brook School (NY) and Malvern College, Malvern, UK.

Parents considering away-from-post schooling for their children may also wish to examine educational options offered by boarding schools in Europe. You should direct any questions on schools or enrollment to the Embassy Administrative Officer or the Community Liaison Office.

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:50 AM

Universities in Sri Lanka offer courses leading to Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Buddhism, Oriental Studies, Arts, Science, Archaeology, Management, Law, Engineering, Agriculture, and Medicine. Instruction is in Sinhala, Tamil or English depending on student demand. Courses are based on the British University system that concentrates on a major subject and allows few outside studies. No U.S. Government employees or family members have attended in recent years.

See Arts, Science, and Education for a list of universities in Sri Lanka.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:50 AM

The Embassy-owned recreation facility at 75 Gregory's Road is equipped with a pool, air conditioned pavilion, bar, and kitchen, tennis court, basketball courts, and some playground equipment for young children, and a covered picnic area with barbecue grill. Use of 75 Gregory's Road is limited to U.S. Government employees and family members. Reservation for special events is through the Admin office. Guests are allowed.

Sports popular among foreign residents are tennis, squash, volleyball, golf, and running with the Hash House Harriers and Harriettes. Other sports available here are soccer, cricket, rugby, table tennis, badminton, karate, sailing. Water sports and scuba diving are available mainly at major tourist centers such as Bentota and Hikkaduwa. Instruction in most sports is available. Salt water fishing is available at the major resort hotels along the Western coast at high prices.

Many join clubs to play most sports in Sri Lanka; and most U.S. Mission personnel belong to at least one hotel sports facility. Club membership fees and monthly dues vary depending on type of membership. For example, rates at hotel sports facilities range from $135-$450 per year for a single membership and from $210-$605 per year for a family membership. All the major hotels in Colombo offer memberships in their sports centers. These facilities vary but usually include fitness centers with good equipment, tennis and squash courts, and fresh water pools. The classic Galle Face Hotel has a salt water pool, but facilities are not well kept so it is not popular among expatriates. Most hotels have children's pools and some have playgrounds.

In addition, there are other sports clubs open to membership, including the Colombo Swimming Club, which is conveniently located near the Chancery and some Embassy residences. This older club has pools for children and adults, 2 clay tennis courts, a squash court, a library, bar, dining facilities and planned social activities, but is not widely popular due to the run down condition of facilities. The Royal Colombo Golf Club has an 18-hole course and clubhouse. Temporary members are accepted. Fees are high.

The Royal Colombo Yacht Club offers sailing in Colombo's harbor and competes in Asian meets. Sailing is also available on Bolgoda Lake about 15 miles south of Colombo at the Colombo Motor Yacht Club. Facilities include a clubhouse, bar, and a picnic area. In spite of what may be available, however, increasing traffic congestion discourages Mission personnel from joining any clubs other than those at the major hotels in town because of the considerable hassle in getting there.

Golf balls and accessories are readily available at the Royal Colombo Golf Club, but they are more expensive than the U.S. Goggles, flippers, fishing tackle, and other sporting equipment can be purchased locally but the selection is very limited and expensive. Bring all articles of sports equipment and clothing from the U.S. Tennis balls are available at double the cost of those in the U.S.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:51 AM

Sri Lanka has beaches on both east and west coasts, though east coast beaches are prohibited to Mission personnel due to the ethnic conflict. Swimming is unsafe at certain times of the year because of strong currents generated by the monsoons. The southwest beaches are considered safe from November to May. The closest beach for swimming is at Mount Lavinia, 20-30 minutes south of Colombo, depending on traffic. There are a number of popular beach hotels/resorts along the southwest coast starting from Bentota, about a 1-1/2 hour drive south from Colombo, to Ahungalla, Kosgoda, and Unawatuna, about 3 hours further, and along the south coast to Tangalle. A stop in Ambalangoda, about 2 hours south of Colombo, will give you a chance to wander through a small mask-making museum and workshop and visit antique shops. Scubadiving is good during the season, and weekend dives can be arranged out of Hikkaduwa. Diving elsewhere is very difficult due to security regulations, and the east coast is completely off-limits for diving. PADI courses for certification are available in Colombo. See Republic of Maldives section.

Sri Lanka has interesting places for weekend outings or longer holiday trips, but again, traffic congestion and poorly maintained roads can discourage such outings. The principal spots in the hill country are Kandy, about 70 miles away (3-1/2 hours by car, altitude 1,674 feet); Nuwara Eliya, about 110 miles away (5-6 hours by car, altitude 6,185 feet); and Bandarawela, about 125 miles away (5 hours by car, altitude 4,017 feet).

Perhaps the most awesome and forbidding region of Sri Lanka is the Horton Plains, which is hard to reach but well worth the effort. Located about 1 hour's drive from Nuwara Eliya, Horton Plains is part of the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary. One of the major attractions here is World's End, considered by many the finest view in all of Sri Lanka, on a clear day. For those who enjoy hiking, this is the place. Sightseers will also enjoy the Uda Walawe National Park to see elephants; and the Sinharaja Rain Forest, one of the few tropical rain forests left in the world, is a must for bird-watchers. Several of the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are off-limits for security reasons.Sri Lanka has beaches on both east and west coasts, though east coast beaches are prohibited to Mission personnel due to the ethnic conflict. Swimming is unsafe at certain times of the year because of strong currents generated by the monsoons. The southwest beaches are considered safe from November to May. The closest beach for swimming is at Mount Lavinia, 20-30 minutes south of Colombo, depending on traffic. There are a number of popular beach hotels/resorts along the southwest coast starting from Bentota, about a 1 « hour drive south from Colombo, to Ahungalla, Kosgoda, and Unawatuna, about 3 hours further, and along the south coast to Tangalle. A stop in Ambalangoda, about 2 hours south of Colombo, will give you a chance to wander through a small mask-making museum and workshop, and antiques shops. Scuba diving is good during season, and weekend dives can be arranged out of Hikkaduwa. Diving elsewhere is very difficult due to security regulations, and the east coast is completely off-limits for diving. PADI courses for certification are available in Colombo. See Republic of Maldives section.

Sri Lanka has interesting places for weekend outings or longer holiday trips, but again, traffic congestion and poorly maintained roads can discourage such outings. The principal spots in the hill country are Kandy, about 70 miles away (3-1/2 hours by car, altitude 1,674 feet), Nuwara Eliya, about 110 miles away (5-6 hours by car, altitude 6,185 feet); and Bandarawela, about 125 miles away (5 hours by car, altitude 4,017 feet).

Perhaps the most awesome region of Sri Lanka is the Horton Plains, which is hard to reach but well worth the effort. Located about one hour's drive from Nuwara Eliya, Horton Plains is part of the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary. One of the major attractions here is World's End, considered by many the finest view in all of Sri Lanka, on a clear day. For those who enjoy hiking this is the place. Sightseers will also enjoy the Uda Walawe National Park for elephant viewing; and the Sinharaja Rain Forest, one of the few tropical rain forests left in the world, is a must for bird-watchers. Several of the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are off-limits for security reasons.

The Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka's ancient cities is also worth seeing. Sigiriya (3 « hours from Colombo by car), is a rock fortress, with famous frescoes. The remains of ancient monuments are located at Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, dating from the 4th Century B.C. and 11th and 12th Century A.D. respectively (5-6 hours by car).

Kandy, the southern point of the cultural triangle, is the site of the Temple of the Tooth visited by Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world. The sacred tooth relic of the Buddha is said to have been brought to Sri Lanka in the early 4th century A.D. hidden in the hair of an Indian princess. Kandy, the island's chief city in medieval times, was the last stronghold of the Sinhala kings and the last place to fall under foreign rule. Things to see include the King's Audience Hall, the Four Devales (temples), the artificial lake constructed by Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe (the last king of Kandy) in 1806, the elephants' bathing place in Katugastota, the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens and the University at Peradeniya.

Hotel accommodations at tourist destinations outside Colombo are very good. In addition to commercially operated hotels ranging from guest houses to five-star hotels, the government operates a large number of rest houses. In certain areas (notably Nuwara Eliya, Horton Plains, and the game parks), bungalows are available for rent. The rest houses vary widely in quality. The better ones are reasonably comfortable and provide adequate meals. All are reasonably priced.

Sri Lanka offers a wide variety of possibilities for the camera enthusiast. The lush, tropical foliage combined with local customs, costumes, and settings to provide many opportunities for photography and video recording. Color film is available in the 110 and 35mm formats in ASA's 100-400. Color print film processing is quite good locally, but depends on the shop. Some employees send film via the diplomatic pouch to the U.S. for processing and return. Color slide processing is available and satisfactory. Black- and-white film can be processed locally, but in very few places. Black-and-white paper is not often available so the processors may use color paper with disappointing results. VHS videotapes are available. Photographic equipment should be protected against the high humidity.

Colombo is the only large city in Sri Lanka. Chennai (Madras) and Mumbai (Bombay), the closest large cities abroad, are about one and two hours away, respectively, by air. New Delhi can be reached by air directly or via Madras or Bombay. The Maldive Islands are easily accessible by air and offer many luxury resorts. See Republic of Maldives section.

The designated R&R destination for those assigned to Colombo is Sydney, Australia, or the U.S. Flight connections to Sydney are usually through Singapore.

Social Activities Last Updated: 9/29/2003 3:52 AM

Foreign Service personnel have extensive social opportunities. The mode and scale of entertainment depends on personal preferences. Buffet dinners, small lunches, and dinners or cocktail parties are popular. There is also a Sri Lankan American Society group with an active monthly book club.

The Marine Detachment holds barbecues and theme parties, as well as the annual Marine Corps Birthday Ball. The CLO organizes sight-seeing and cultural tours as well as factory tours of interest such as a tea or garment factory. The CLO also organizes Mission farewell parties, welcoming coffee for new arrivals, the American community- wide Fourth of July activities and Thanksgiving program.

Several of the major hotels in Colombo have discos. There exist a wide variety of restaurants to choose from including those featuring Italian, Chinese, Thai, French, Korean, German, Japanese, and Indian as well as local cuisine. All major hotels have good restaurants and have food festivals from different nations from time to time. All accept major credit cards.

The North American Women's Association (NAWA) is an independent organization that conducts charitable and social activities and introduces new arrivals to Americans and other expatriates to local customs and shopping. NAWA has various groups one can take part in. One group organizes the members' children's parties for Halloween, Christmas and Easter. The craft group produces handicrafts throughout the year for sale at the annual International Christmas Bazaar with proceeds going to charities. Once a month the lunch-bunch group and a ladies night-out group meet at a restaurant or a member's home, sometimes with a guest speaker, or a slide show. There is an annual Thanksgiving Lunch and a Christmas Tea. All resident American women, women married to Americans, and Canadian women may join the association. General meetings are often held in members' homes, sometimes at a restaurant or maybe an art museum. Annual membership is Rs.1000/-.

Some American women join the International Women's Club, which includes a book club, and often has guest speakers. Branches of the YMCA, YWCA, and the Salvation Army are also active.

Official Functions Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM

Courtesy calls on the Ambassador and DCM are made on arrival at post during the check-in process.

Most employees have calling cards and invitations printed locally. The quality is satisfactory and the cost reasonable. No engraving is done in Sri Lanka. Cards can also be printed at the Embassy. Most employees and spouses find that calling cards are useful.

Special Information Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM

Post Orientation Program

The post periodically holds orientation programs for all Mission employees and adult family members. Included are speakers from the various Mission agencies and a Sri Lankan historian or linguistics professor offering insight into Sri Lankan culture. The objective of this program is to provide a general knowledge of local politics, history, and culture to the newcomers, as well as acquaint them with the Mission's programs and functions.

The post language program offers instruction in Sinhala and Tamil to all interested American employees and spouses, budget permitting.


Republic of Maldives

Area, Geography, and Climate

The Republic of Maldives is in the northern Indian Ocean, about 400 miles southwest of Sri Lanka and 300 miles from the southernmost tip of India. A chain of 19 atolls with a total area of 115 square miles, the Maldives extend a distance of 550 miles north-south. The atolls comprise about 1,200 coral islands. The islets are small (none larger than 4 square miles in area) and seldom exceed an elevation of 5 or 6 feet above sea level. The tropical vegetation varies from grass and scrub to dense woods of fruit trees or coconut palms.

Although the official language of the Maldives is Divehi, English is the second language. English, however, is spoken by almost everyone in the Maldives.

The climate is hot and humid with little daily variation; the average temperature is 80°F and the relative humidity is 80%. Most of the area is subject to the southwest monsoon (June to August) and the northeast monsoon (November to March); the annual rainfall averages 100 inches in the north and 150 inches in the south.

The Maldive Islands are renowned for outstanding scuba diving and snorkeling. Resort islands offer PADI courses and outings to exotic dive sites and uninhabited islands for snorkeling. Other sports such as swimming, windsurfing, and sailing are readily available on the resort islands.

No official Americans reside in Maldives; however, some diplomatic officers are accredited to the Republic of Maldives and make occasional official visits.


Male, capital of the Republic of Maldives, is an island about 1-1/2 square miles in total area and occupies a central position in the archipelago. Land is slowly being reclaimed on the island’s north side. All Government offices, the four main Government schools, and two hospitals—one private, one public—are also here. The commercial district has a wide variety of small shops selling curios, antiques, seashells, and other goods.

Male also has an attractive park, Sultan Park, and a museum with artifacts originating from Arab, Dravidian, and Sri Lankan cultures that have influenced the history of this island republic.

Male’s population is about 70,000. Male is a free port; no duties are levied on articles brought into Male by visitors. However, certain articles are prohibited for importation or must be declared at customs. Since Maldives is a Moslem country, among other things, no pork products or liquor may be brought in by visitors. However, these products are made available to tourists on the resort islands.

The Post and Its Administration

Male has an American consular agency supervised by the Embassy in Sri Lanka. The agency is at:

Mandhu Eduruge 20-05 Violet Mage, Male Telephone Male 322581 Telex Number 66028

Some diplomatic officers in the Embassy in Colombo are also accredited to the Maldives. No official Americans reside in the Maldives.


Accomodations in the Maldives are available on any of the tourist islands. Two government guesthouses and two modest hotels are also available on Male. All accommodations on tourist islands will provide full board, although partial board (meals per day) and room only are also available. Tourist hotels are expensive; be prepared to pay U.S. prices.

Simple but adequate one- or two-bedroom flats and houses (sometimes with a small yard) are available for long-term housing. New construction is under way, but it takes at least 3 months to find suitable quarters. Rental may vary from $200 to $400 a month (excluding electricity) and much more if the house is large or has special amenities.

Utilities and Equipment

Electric current in Male is 220v-240v, 50-cycle AC. Electricity is reliable and expensive.

Male has no piped public water supply or sewage network. Sweet water is obtained from household wells and rain catchments. The well water is for general use and the rain catchment for drinking. Boiling and filtering of drinking water is essential. Houses rented by foreigners have individual compound septic tanks.


Rice, flour, lentils, coconuts, fish, sugar, salt, onions, green chilies, and spices are the mainstays of the Maldivian diet.

Many types of inexpensive fresh fish are available daily (except Friday), but the most common are tuna, bonita, and seer. It is possible to arrange occasional supplies of spiny lobster and turtle meat. Poultry and eggs are always available. Chickens are scrawny and expensive, and imported eggs are available. Fresh meat is available, but dairy products are not available locally.

Fruits such as papayas, limes, bananas, and coconuts are always on the market; one variety of mango is available in season. Tropical yellow vegetables such as pumpkin, sweet potatoes, yams, breadfruit, brinjal (eggplant), and gourd varieties are usually available; potatoes and onions are found intermittently. Fresh green vegetables are imported and available year round.

Good quality white loaf bread is baked daily. A variety of canned and bottled goods gradually are becoming more common in shops. Nespray powdered milk and tinned cheese, cream, and condensed milk are nearly always sold locally. Frozen meat is available as well as ice cream. Coca-Cola is bottled locally. Seven-Up in cans and other soft drinks are also available. Beer, wine, spirits, and other drinks containing alcohol are sold only in tourists hotels, and foreign visitors not staying in a hotel cannot use the bar unless he/she is a guest of a hotel resident.


Warm clothing is never required. Cotton dresses, trousers, skirts, and lightweight tropical suits are the most comfortable year-round attire. Some readymade clothing, notably shirts, jeans, trousers, ladies' dresses and blouses, T-shirts, underwear, rubber sandals, and infants' wear are increasingly available though only in small sizes and often expensive for the quality. A variety of high-quality, synthetic materials is available and is relatively inexpensive. Pure cotton cloth, which suits the climate best, is available.

The correct dress for men in Government offices is trousers with either a shirt and tie or a bush shirt; and shoes are preferred to sandals. When visiting any ministry, shirt and tie (without a jacket), or a bush suit, or a suit with tie is acceptable. Foreign women wear dresses with a knee-length hemline and short sleeves to offices in Male; in recent years, Maldivian women have been asked to wear their national costume to work, an ankle-length dress with a high neck and long sleeves, with a head scarf.

Supplies and Services


Simple basic, heavy furniture; kerosene table stoves; fans; sometimes small refrigerators; washers; sewing machines; TV sets; cassette players; radios; and some cooking items, cutlery, and linen are sold in Male.

Some furniture may be rented, made, or bought locally at auction; custommade furniture (and all wood products) are expensive. Thin mattresses (stuffed with foam) are available locally. Beds have a hard surface and no springs. Kerosene table stoves are used by a few wealthy local families and by most foreigners.

Basic Services

Maldives has few laundries and no drycleaning shops. Shoe repair facilities are fair. Imported, high-quality goods are expensive and scarce. Bring sufficient quantities of hair-care products, perfume, and cosmetics for those who have special preferences. These items also may be imported. Spare parts for household articles must be imported. Electricians' and plumbers' services are available and are of fair quality. Hairdressers and barbers are available; their charges are moderate.

Domestic Help

Inexpensive domestic help is available, but experienced, well-qualified help is scarce. Language and customs differences can create problems.


Education in government-run schools is free. Western-style education based on the British Commonwealth curriculum exists in Male only up to the high school level. Studies beyond high school must be pursued abroad. Most teachers are experienced Maldivian and Sri Lankan nationals. The medium of instruction is both Dhivehi and English.

Grades preschool through 10 are available. After Grade 10, students sit for the London General Certificate of Education (G.C.E. Ordinary Level) Examination. The G.C.E. Advanced Level Examination is offered at the Science Education Center.

Recreation and Social Life

Male has one or two relatively good restaurants. Two hotels, an Italian restaurant, and the tourist island restaurant provide some diversion in entertainment. The Maldive Islands are renowned for scuba diving. Other sports such as swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing, and sailing are readily available on the resort islands.

Firearms and Ammunition

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decreed that no foreigners, including members of the diplomatic community are permitted to import, purchase, or possess firearms in Sri Lanka.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures

Sri Lanka's monetary unit is the rupee. The officially established rate changes daily. The rate of exchange is about Rs. 92.95=$1 (December 2001). Strict currency controls require customs declaration of all foreign currency brought into and taken out of the country and severely limit local importation of foreign good. Indian, Nepalese, Pakistani, and Sri Lankan rupees are forbidden to be imported into or exported out of the country. Retain the currency control form in your passport during your stay in Sri Lanka because it will have to be relinquished upon departure. Banking facilities are available and establishment of a local checking account is the best means to record bill payments. Checks can be used to pay credit account bills; however, daily transactions in most businesses are done in local currency.

Retain any U.S. dollars for future use. Individuals with current American Express credit cards may purchase American Express travelers checks with personal checks. An arrangement with Citibank, the local U.S. depository, provides for the purchase of travelers checks for U.S. Mission staff members by personal check from U.S. banks.

Some people open rupee checking accounts in Sri Lanka to pay local bills and maintain a U.S. dollar checking account in the U.S. to pay for American purchases.

Sri Lanka now operates on the metric system in calculating weights and measures.

Special Information

Accommodations in the Maldives are available on any of the tourist islands. Two Government guesthouses and at least three modest hotels are also available on Male. All accommodations on tourist islands will provide full board, partial board (2 meals per day), or bed and breakfast. Tourist hotels are expensive; be prepared to pay high prices.

Electric current in Male is 220v-240v, 50-cycle AC. Electricity is reliable but expensive. Bottled water is consumed at the resorts, with nonpotable desalinated water used for bathing facilities.

Warm clothing is never required. Cotton dresses, trousers, skirts, and lightweight tropical suits are the most comfortable year-round attire. When visiting any ministry, shirt and tie, or a suit or jacket with tie, is acceptable for men, and women wear dresses or suits with a modest hemline. Short sleeves are acceptable. Shorts and swimsuits are perfectly acceptable at the resorts, although swimsuits must be covered for dining, and most wear full attire for meals.

As in other tropical countries, the main health problems of the population are infectious diseases. Tuberculosis, filariasis, and leprosy are found; gastroenteritis, ear infections, measles, and skin diseases are common. Always drink bottled or boiled and filtered drinking water. Many people avoid eating raw vegetables and unpeeled fruits. Since the incidence of mosquito-borne diseases is high, sleep under a mosquito net when the bedroom is not air-conditioned.

Cholera and yellow fever vaccinations are required for arrivals from affected areas. Immunization against tetanus, typhoid, and poliomyelitis is recommended.

Clinical medical care in Male is available at the Government hospital, which also has two national dental assistants, one trained in Britain and one in Sri Lanka. Although the hospital itself is a superior, small facility with excellent nursing care, most surgery or serious illnesses cannot be attended to, so patients must be evacuated. Singapore is the nearest place where first-class care is available. Many hotel island resorts have doctors in residence who are available to care for guests.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM

International flights arrive and depart from Bandaranaike International Airport, about 20 miles northwest of Colombo (1 hour by car). New arrivals should notify the Human Resources Office far in advance as to date and time of arrival, so that housing and other arrival arrangements may be made. Should employees have special housing requirements or questions on schools, write to either the GSO or the CLO.

Assigned sponsors will meet newly arrived personnel at the airport. However, if the sponsor cannot meet the new arrival, the Embassy's expediter will do so.

A Marine Security Guard is on duty 24 hours daily at the Chancery.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Sri Lanka customs require a copy of all Bills of Lading and a detailed packing list, signed by the packer, shipper, or consignee, be filed with the clearance documents. Effects should not be shipped to arrive far in advance of the employee, since the Embassy has no storage facilities and Customs will not clear goods in advance of an employee's arrival.

In addition, to clear an automobile, the Embassy requires the following information: registration certificate, engine number, chassis number, make, color, model, right-hand drive, first date of registration, and year of manufacture (not more than 3 years old). It is important to note that the vehicle identification number alone is not sufficient when clearing a vehicle. If it is a second-hand car, include purchase price paid when new. If ordering a new car, furnish invoice and a copy of the bill of lading.

In arranging airfreight shipments from the U.S. to Colombo, allow at least 3-6 weeks transit time. Surface shipment of household effects or consumables takes 3-4 months. All household and consumables shipments should be well waterproofed, due to the heavy monsoon rains. Packing should take into account Colombo's high humidity.

Customs clearance is arranged by the Embassy's General Services Section. When shipping a car, remove hubcaps, windshield wiper blades and arms, outside mirrors, and aerials and lock them inside the trunk or pack them in a strong, steel-banded box. Do not store any additional items in the car.

Because Colombo has little equipment to handle oversized shipments, lift vans should not exceed 6 feet wide by 7 feet high and 8 feet long and should not weigh more than 2 tons.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM

The Government of Sri Lanka extends unlimited duty-free privileges to Mission personnel on the Diplomatic List. Others have duty-free entry privileges for the first 6 months of their tour. Mission personnel on the Diplomatic List are authorized duty-free importation of two vehicles during a tour of duty. Nondiplomatic personnel may import only one vehicle duty free per tour. A motorcycle is considered a vehicle. If you are unsure whether you will be on the diplomatic list, consult with your agency head.

Passage Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM

The Government of Sri Lanka requires that passport information on all newly assigned employees be furnished to the Foreign Ministry, which in turn will notify its approval to the Sri Lankan Embassy concerned to issue a visa. Please cable the following information as soon as your assignment has been made: name, date and place of birth, nationality, passport number, date and place of issue, date of expiration of passport, name and particulars of spouse and children, and the Sri Lankan Mission to which instructions are to be sent for issuance of a visa, i.e., Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington, D.C. The Embassy Human Resources Office will arrange to have passports endorsed shortly after arrival to facilitate travel into and out of Sri Lanka while assigned here. Please bring five photographs for each adult, size 2 x 2-1/2 inches for identity cards and driving licenses. Photos are also required for visas when you visit other countries and can be obtained locally.

The Department of State considers inoculations against yellow fever necessary for those passing through parts of Africa and South America. Recent cholera vaccine should be stamped in immunization records to avoid airport problems in the Middle East and Africa.

Pets Last Updated: 10/18/2005 5:23 AM

Notify the Embassy in advance if pets will be arriving to obtain up-to-date requirements. Please note that current restrictions imposed by the GSL prohibit cats from being imported from the U.S. and the following additional countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Seitzerland, and the United Kingdom, Current health and anti-rabies certificates must accompany the pet. A health certificate completed within 30 days of arrival should be faxed to the GSO section at (94)(1) 431107 at least 1 week prior to your arrival. The section will then complete the necessary paperwork to facilitate your pet's clearance at the airport.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM


Gasoline and diesel fuel are available from the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). In October 2001, gasoline cost 37 rupees per liter and diesel 33 rupees per liter. State, USAID, IBB, and Defense Attaché employees may purchase gas on the Mission compound. The price is only slightly cheaper than purchasing gas outside of the compound.

Diplomatic personnel are not exempt from Sri Lankan import restrictions concerning vehicle age and left-hand-drive vehicles. Vehicles imported into Sri Lanka under duty-free privileges can be either reexported, sold to another person with duty-free privileges, or offered for sale on the open market. A sale on the open market, however, may only take place after approval has been granted by the Government of Sri Lanka. If sold on the open market, the purchaser is responsible for paying the import duties, which even on a used vehicle can range from 20% to over 100%.

In order to sell a vehicle imported under duty-free privileges, the Embassy must notify the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), which then passes the information on to the Director of Government Supplies. The Department of Government Supplies will then schedule the vehicle for a valuation. At the time of the valuation, the Embassy must provide a copy of the original invoice listing the c.i.f. value of the vehicle, a declaration of the duty payable on the vehicle, and the local agent's valuation of the vehicle at the time of purchase (usually the same as the c.i.f. value on the original invoice). The Department of Government Supplies uses a depreciation schedule to make its evaluation, but such is subject to change frequently and without notice.

The process of disposing a vehicle locally has often been a frustrating experience for Mission personnel. In some cases, the vehicle cannot be reexported to the new post, and the relatively low cost of new duty-free vehicles can make it difficult to sell a used vehicle to a buyer with duty-free privileges. Although the Department of Government Supplies provides standard rates of depreciation for the purchase of vehicles from sellers with duty-free privileges, the actual price can be the subject of extensive negotiation. The net result is that Mission personnel have often been dissatisfied with the prices received for their vehicles. Due to GSL restrictions and high duties imposed on buyers without duty-free privileges, this is not a post where Mission personnel can expect to break even on the sale of a vehicle.

Mission personnel have occasionally departed Sri Lanka without finalizing arrangements for the sale of their vehicle. In such cases, they must leave a Power of Attorney and instructions for the disposition of the vehicle with a colleague. The vehicle will be reexported or sold within a period of 60 days to a buyer with or without duty-free privileges.

When personnel import second-hand cars into Sri Lanka for their personal use, i.e., automobiles that they currently own and have used in the U.S. or the previous post of assignment, it is essential that they bring or send to the post in advance the "first registration card" and the "original invoice." They also should notify the post in advance of the engine and chassis number. Failure to produce the first registration card and the original invoice can cause considerable delay in clearing and registering the automobile.

The unauthorized export of antiques from Sri Lanka is prohibited. Prior to the purchase of antiques, it is best to consult the Commissioner of Archaeology, Archaeological Department, Colombo, for proper advice and guidance. Only antiques certified and cleared by the Archaeological Commissioner can be exported.

To prevent confiscation or taxation of antiques, have a receipt for bona-fide antiques or have the antiques listed on the packing list before entering Sri Lanka. On arrival, the packing list should be produced to the Commissioner of Archaeology, who will verify the antiques against the packing list and certify the packing list. Retain this inventory listing until departure from Sri Lanka in the event questions are raised at the time of departure from the island.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Westerners have been writing about Sri Lanka since the days of Marco Polo. Portuguese, Dutch, and British writers have been particularly prolific. This selection also includes titles by Sri Lankan scholars.

General History

Brohier, R.L. Discovering Ceylon. Colombo: Lake House Investments Ltd., 1973. The fables, traditions, and history of an old civilization permeate the affectionate and nostalgic account of the author's love affair with his country.

de Silva, C.R. Sri Lanka, A History. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House Pvt., Ltd., 1987. This excellent work is the first of a specially commissioned series to bridge the gap between the two different emphases—those of the colonialist and the nationalist—on the history of the Afro-Asian nations.

deSilva, K.M. A History of Sri Lanka. London: Oxford University Press, and Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981. The first general history of Sri Lanka—ancient, medieval, and modern—in one handy volume. It is intended mainly as a convenient pr‚cis of the available state of the historical arts on the island and satisfies that purpose to good effect.

Goonetileke, H.A.I., ed. Images of Sri Lanka Through American Eyes: Travellers in Ceylon in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Colombo: USICA, 2d ed., 1983. A select anthology of the impressions of visiting Americans, beginning with the early missionaries and ending with Thomas Merton.

Kemper, Steven. The Presence of the Past: Chronicles, Politics and Culture in Sinhala Life. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1991.

Knox, Robert. An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon, with Introduction by H.A.I Goonetileke. New Delhi: Navrang, 1983. Facsimile reprint of the 1st ed., 1981. Knox was held prisoner by the Kandyan kings for 30 years in the 17th century and lived in many parts of the kingdom. On escaping to England he wrote one of the great shipwreck classics. It tells more about the Kandyan kingdom than any other single book and, incidentally, is said to have inspired Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.

Ludowyk, E.F.C. The Footprints of the Buddha. London: Allen and Unwin, 1958. An unusually discerning presentation of the impact of Buddhism on the evolution of society in Sri Lanka and the importance of its artistic and cultural heritage.

Woolf, Leonard. Growing: An Autobiography of the Years 1904-1911. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1961. Woolf, Virginia Woolf's husband, was a civil servant under the British and writes evocatively about the country, its people, and his tasks.

Politics Since Independence

Coomaraswamy, Radhika. Sri Lanka: The Crisis of the Anglo-American Constitutional Traditions in a Developing Society. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House Pvt., Ltd., 1984. In this critical study of the Sri Lankan political tradition, the author, using constitutional law as a prism, transferred on the eve of independence, and the nature of its transformation in response to problems of underdevelopment and cultural nationalism.

de Silva, K.M., ed. Sri Lanka, Problems of Governance. Sri Lanka: International Center for Ethnic Studies, 1993.

de Silva, K.M. and Wriggins, Howard. J.R. Jayewardene of Sri Lanka—A Political Biography. Vol. I: 1906-56. Anthony Blond/Quartet, 1988. Vol. II: From 1956 to 1989. Colombo: J.R. Jayewardene Cultural Centre, 1994. This exhaustive two-volume biography covers the life of perhaps Sri Lanka's preeminent political figure of this century. Some critics claim it is too favorable to "JR."

Gunaratna, Rohan. Sri Lanka, A Lost Revolution? The Inside Story of the JVP. Sri Lanka: Institute of Fundamental Studies, 1990. An intimate description of what propelled and motivated the leadership of the JVP in their attempt to overthrow democracy.

Hoole, Rajan; Somasundaram, Daya; Sritharan, K.; Thiranagana, Rajani, The Broken Palmyra. California: The Sri Lanka Studies Institute, 1988; reprint ed., 1990. An account of the pain and agony of the Tamil people in northern Sri Lanka.

Little, David. Sri Lanka: The Invention of Enmity. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 1994. Based on a 1990 Institute of Peace conference on the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, this book synthesizes the views of leading Sri Lankan and Western scholars.

Manor, James. The Expedient Utopian: Bandaranaike and Ceylon. Cambridge University Press, 1989. The standard biography of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Sri Lanka's Prime Minister from 1956-59, who is the late husband of the current Prime Minister, and the father of the current President. Although most Sri Lankan academics maintain that it is too critical of SWRD, the book is extremely readable.

McGowan, William. Only Man is Vile, The Tragedy of Sri Lanka. London: Picador, 1993. Journalist's view of the country circa 1990.

Ratnatunga, Sinha. Politics of Terrorism, The Sri Lanka Experience. Australia: International Fellowship for Social and Economic Development, 1988. Deals with the ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka. A complete account of contemporary Sri Lanka politics and the growth of the guerrilla movement, especially the rioting of July 1983.

Tambiah, S.J. Sri Lanka, Ethnic Fratricide and The Dismantling of Democracy. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1986. A passionate analysis of the Sinhalese-Tamil conflict.

Wilson, A. Jeyaratnam. The Gaullist System in Asia: The Constitution of Sri Lanka. London: McMillian, 1980. The author seeks to relate the constitution of 1978 to its immediate sociopolitical and economic environment; to indicate the similarities between that and its closest counterpart, the Fifth Republic of France and the British and U.S. structures.

Wilson, A. Jeyaratnam. Politics in Sri Lanka 1947-1979. London: Macmillian, 2nd ed., 1980. Detailed information by a Ceylon Tamil, formerly on the faculty of the University of Ceylon, now teaching at the University of New Brunswick, Canada.

Buddhism and Hinduism

Carter, John R. Religiousness in Sri Lanka. Colombo: Marga Institute, 1979. A symposium by specialists in all religions practiced in Sri Lanka.

Cartman, Rev. James. Hinduism in Ceylon. Colombo: M.D. Gunasena, 1957. A general introduction to the theory and practice of Hinduism as found in Sri Lanka.

Gunawardana, R.A.L.H. Robe and Plough; Monasticism and Economic Interest in Early Medieval Sri Lanka. University of Arizona Press, 1979. A substantial study of the crucial economic aspects of a Buddhist monastic organization in an important period of Sri Lankan history that marked the emergence of Sinhala state power.

Malalgoda, Kitsiri. Buddhism in Sinhalese Society 1750-1900/A Study of Religious Revival and Change. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976. A detailed study of the history of Sinhalese Buddhism during a recent 150-year period in which the classical tradition experienced revival and change in response to both internal and external pressures.

Rahula, Walpola, Thera. History of Buddhism in Ceylon. The Anuradhapura Period, 3rd Century B.C.-10th Century. A.D., Colombo: M.D. Gunasena, 2nd ed., 1968. An authoritative and well-documented study of Buddhism in Ceylon, its development, structure, and administration of monasteries and the activities of the monastic life.

Smith, Bardwell L., ed. Religion and Legitimation of Power in Sri Lanka. Chambersburg: Anima Books, 1978. The volume on Sri Lanka discusses several periods of Ceylonese history. The first five chapters focus on the Anaradhapura period, 12 centuries ending in the 10th century A.D. The next five chapters examine developments through the 18th century, showing how mythology merged with reality.

Tambiah, Stanley Jeyaraja. Buddhism Betrayed? Religion, Politics, and Violence in Sri Lanka. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. A study of how Buddhism has contributed to the ethnic conflict. Tambiah is a Sri Lankan Tamil and a Harvard anthropologist. This controversial book is not available in Sri Lanka.

The Economy

Annual Economic Report. Colombo, Sri Lanka: Econsult (Pvt) Ltd. Analyzes economic trends and policy issues from a business perspective.

Annual Report of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka: annual. Presents a detailed study of the performance of the Sri Lankan economy. Includes data and statistics on GDP, international finance, prices, money, and banking, etc.

Athukorala and Jayasuriya. Macro Economic Policies, Crises, and Growth in Sri Lanka 1969-1990. Washington, DC: World Bank, 1994. Analyzes the interaction between Sri Lanka's macroeconomic policies, political and social stability, and long-term growth.

Business South Asia. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, monthly. Analyzes current economic policies and industry trends and developments in Sri Lanka, as well as Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

Karunatilake, H.N.S. Economic Development in Ceylon. New York: Praeger, 1971. A descriptive analysis of the economy, by an economist who is currently Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Ceylon.

Ponnambalam, Satchi. Dependent Capitalism in Crisis. The Sri Lankan Economy, 1948-1980. London: Zed Press, and New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House Pvt., 1981. A wide-ranging survey and critical evaluation of the economic politics and programs, development planning and performance, and the resulting socioeconomic politics since independence.

Sri Lanka Country Report. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, quarterly. Presents and explains current political and economic state of the country. Monitors recent events and gives a political and economic outlook for up to 2 years.

Sri Lanka Investment Policy and Incentives. Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, 1996. Describes the business environment and provides information on investment opportunities, procedures, and incentives. (Updated information available on the Board of Investment's website:

Sri Lanka Private Sector Assessment. Washington, DC: World Bank, March 1995. Provides a profile of the private sector, identifies obstacles to private-sector development, and makes recommendations regarding policy reform and bank group strategy to support the Government's reform agenda.

Society and Miscellaneous

Baldwin, Jan. Colombo Heritage. Sri Lanka: Lake House Investments Ltd., 1986. Descriptive histories and sketches of historical buildings in Colombo.

Barlas, Robert, and Wanasundera, Nanda P., Culture Shock! Sri Lanka. Singapore: Times Books International, 1992. A culture guide for adjusting to life in the Sri Lanka environment. Covers festivals, foods, languages, doing business, etc.

Blank, Jonah. Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God: Retracing the Ramayana Through India. Houghton Mifflin, 1992. A young American travels and muses through India and Sri Lanka. Surprisingly sophisticated and insightful.

Carter, John Ross, ed. Religiousness in Sri Lanka. Colombo: The Marga Institute, 1979. Representatives of the four major religious traditions in Sri Lanka reveal the strengths and significance of their adherence to their respective religious faiths and the enduring value of the religious community in a pluralistic society.

Farmer, B.H., Pioneer Peasant Colonization in Ceylon. London: Oxford University Press, 1957. The most authoritative study of the agricultural, administrative, ecological, engineering, and human aspects of colonization efforts up to 1957. Indispensable for those interested in irrigation settlements.

Gooneratne, Yasmine. Relative Merits: A Personal Memoir of the Bandaranaike Family of Sri Lanka. New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc., 1986. An inside look at one of the country's most influential clans and the unique social mileu it helped to create.

Gunasekera, Romesh. Monkfish Moon. New York: New Press, 1994. Bittersweet short stories set in contemporary Sri Lanka.

Gunasekera, Romesh. Reef. London: Granta Books, 1994. A beautifully written story of love in a paradise spoiled by violence. Short listed for the Booker Prize.

Karunaratne, Nihal. From Governor's Pavilion to President's Pavilion. Colombo, 1984. A charming guide to the history of the building and its occupants, with outstanding color illustrations.

Muller, Carl. Yakada Yaka. India: Penguin Books, 1994. Muller writes of the "Burgher" (Eurasian) railwaymen of colonial Ceylon. Muller is vulgar, but often funny, in his inimitably bawdy fashion.

National Geographic Magazine. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, April 1966, January 1979, and January 1997. These issues are devoted to Sri Lanka with the usual beautiful photography and text.

North American Women's Association. Colombo Handbook. Sri Lanka: Associated Newspapers of Ceylon, Ltd., 1991. An indispensable handbook for information on everything from automobiles, diseases, hospitals, recreation, servants, shopping, zoos, etc.

Ondaatje, Michael. Running in the Family. New York: Vintage Books, 1982. A funny and disturbing memoir of life in a Dutch Ceylonese family during the first half of the century. By the Booker Prize-winning author of The English Patient.

Pieris, Ralph. Sinhalese Social Organization. Colombo: Ceylon University Press Board, 1956. The first comprehensive survey of Sinhalese society in the Kandyan period, in the three centuries prior to British Colonization. Complements Knox.

Roberts, Michael. Caste Conflict and Elite Formation: The rise of a Karava elite in Sri Lanka, 1500-1931. Cambridge University Press, 1982.

Ross, Russell R. and Savada, Andrea Matles, ed. Sri Lanka, A Country Study. Library of Congress, Federal Research Division, 1990. A precise, objective study of the dominant social, political, economic, and military aspects of Sri Lankan society.

Selvadurai, Shyam. Funny Boy. Morrow, 1996. A novel about a young Tamil boy in Colombo coming to terms with his own homosexuality and the racism of the society in which he lives.

Still, John H. The Jungle Tide. London: Blackwood, 1955. A lover of Ceylon's jungles carries you back and into the wilds with an indigenous Veddah family and its problems.

Vijayatunga, J. Grass for My Feet. London: Edward Arnold, 1935; reprint ed., 1953; reprint ed., London: Howard Baker, 1970; reprint ed., Sri Lanka: K.V.G. deSilva & Sons Colombo Ltd., 1993. A popular and nostalgic account of the author's traditional village society; a charming description of community life in rural Sri Lanka in the twenties.

Woolf, Leonard. The Village in the Jungle. London, 1913; reprint ed., Colombo: Hansa Publishers, 1974. The great novel of Ceylon jungle life, as the British Raj impinges on uncomprehending, hardpressed villages beset by the jungle.

Yalman, N. Under the Bo Tree—Studies in Caste, Kinship, and Marriage in the Interior of Ceylon. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967. Much information for those interested in life outside Colombo.

Internet Websites Infoscope newsclipping service with newsclips about Sri Lanka from major newspapers worldwide including Sri Lanka. Use the current Sunday date in the following format: yymmdd. This is the internet edition of the Sri Lankan Sunday Times newspaper with a link to the Midweek Mirror newspaper. Site for the American Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka. a good compendium of current news on Sri Lanka A tourist magazine with informative feature articles on the culture of Sri Lanka and business updates. Site for the Overseas School of Colombo. Use current date in the following format: yyyy/mm/dd. This is the internet edition of the Daily News newspaper of Colombo, with a link to the Sunday Observer edition. The internet edition of the Sunday Leader newspaper of Colombo. A source for current local news and information. The internet edition of The Island newspaper of Colombo. Homepage for the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington, DC, with links to other Sri Lankan news and information sites. U.S. Department of State homepage with links to Background Notes (at, and the Consular Information Sheet (at Watch for a future link to the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka at Homepage for the US Embassy in Sri Lanka

Local Holidays Last Updated: 9/30/2002 6:00 PM

The Embassy celebrates 9 U.S. holidays and 11 local holidays. Many local holidays vary from year to year in accordance with the lunar calendar. Except for the American holidays that are normal workdays in Sri Lanka, the local holidays observed by the Embassy are statutory holidays, and local facilities are closed on those days. However, personnel arriving at post need not schedule arrival to avoid these holidays. The Embassy will arrange for someone to meet you at the airport.

Easter Day April 15 Evacuation Day (anniversary of the departure of the French from Syria) April 17 Martyr's Day May 6 Prophet's Birthday * June 3 Mawlid al Nabi August 9 Al-Fitr (End of Ramadan) * December 16-17

* Based on the lunar calendar.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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