(Note: The Consular Service of the U.S. State Department issues a report on every nation that gives essential and basic information to American travelers. This is the one issued for the Democratic Commonwealth of Bergonia)
Department of State, United States of America
Bergonia- Consular Information Sheet
issued May 8, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Bergonia is a highly-developed, stable socialist state, with rule by law and an independent court system. Its population of approximately 168 million is ethnically divided into Atrei (e.g. native Bergonian) (67 percent), European (10 percent), and Sherei (Mestizo or mixed-race) (23 percent). Miradi is the national religion, although Christians comprise 25% of the population. Minidun (spoken in the eastern half of the country) and Nacateca (spoken in the west) are the official languages although English and French are widely spoken. There are two capital cities, Lefitoni where the Congress and executive meet, and Ceiolai, where the courts and many national ministries are headquartered.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: An American passport is required for entry into Bergonia. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens for visits up to 30 days, providing that tourism or education is the purpose of the visit. U.S. citizens must obtain a visa if they intend to obtain employment or engage in any trade or sales activity, regardless of the length of the visit. Such visas are not quickly granted, since the applications typically require the approval of three offices. Visas for long term stays involving leisure, education, training, or pursuant to a negotiated trade or joint-venture contract are very easily granted. For further information on entry requirements for Bergonia, travelers may contact the Embassy of Bergonia at 4202 Linnean Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, or the Bergonian consulates in New York, Boston, Charleston WV, Charleston SC, Miami, St. Louis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland OR or Honolulu.
SAFETY AND SECURITY:
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.
The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328. The Bergonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains an Aliens Security Hotline and Clearinghouse to provide information in various languages to citizens of other countries about security and crime issues, and as a place to contact in case of emergencies.
Demonstrations are commonplace in Bergonia, even in smaller towns, and may range in number from a few people to many thousand. Prior police approval is required for public demonstrations, but many smaller demonstrations occur without the necessary permits. Police oversight is routinely provided for larger demonstration to ensure adequate security for participants and passers-by. Bergonians are exceptionally prone to demonstrate, and situations frequently develop which could pose a threat to personal safety, since Bergonians tend to be much more tolerant of disturbances than Americans. U.S. citizens are accordingly advised to avoid areas in which public demonstrations are taking place.
CRIME: While the rate of violent crime in Bergonia is low, tourists are occasionally targeted, often in robbery attempts. Foreign visitors to larger cities occasionally fall prey to pickpockets, bag snatchers, and other petty thieves. Thieves very rarely operate outside the larger cities. Unattended bicycles and personal belongings (such as briefcases and computer bags) are usually safe from theft, and lost objects are often returned to their owners. Within the larger cities thieves may operate in crowded areas, and the U.S. Consulate General in Ceiolai receives frequent reports of thefts from several specific areas:
-- In Lefitoni the train from Sachirpa International Airport to Capitol Station is more often plagued by thieves than any other.
--Within Ceiolai, thieves are very active in and around the Central Train Station, the WDC/Zuid Train Station, the red light district, and on public transportation, especially trams 1, 2, and 5 between the Central Station and the Arts District.
--In Cationi the red light district, Kalro Street and the Head Market.
--In Santacier thieves frequent the parks and walkways near the film studios.
The Consulate General has also received reports of physical assaults against Americans in or around bars and other drinking establishments, usually in conjunction with nationalist or political arguments. U.S. citizens are cautioned against offending native sensibilities concerning political and cultural matters. The Consulate General furthermore has collected reports of Bergonians playing elaborate pranks on Americans occasionally with harmful results.
The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If your U.S. passport is lost or stolen while you are in Bergonia, please contact the U.S. Consulate General in either Ceiolai or Lefitoni for information about passport replacement. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. In
Bergonia, passport and other services for American citizens are provided by the US Consulate General in Ceiolai and Lefitoni. The United
States maintains 14 consulates in
Bergonia. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds can be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/asafetripabroad.html.
Each of the 31 states maintains a Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund, which provides financial compensation, under specific circumstances, for crime victims and for those who have suffered injuries and consequent loss caused by such incidents. The fund also provides for dependents or immediate family members of homicide victims. Violent crimes include assault, robbery with violence or murder, intended murder, rape, sexual abuse and unlawful deprivation of liberty. For more information, call the National Crime Victims Clearinghouse at its toll-free number: 700-615-5000.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND INSURANCE: Excellent medical facilities are widely available throughout the country. Upon arrival in Bergonia, travelers are required to pay a premium equal to $41.14 to become enrolled in the Peoples Health for sixty days. Upon payment of the premium, foreigners are issued a Peoples Health card which they must carry on them at all times, but which entitles them to emergency and catastrophic medical care while in Bergonia. At the time they are required to enroll in the Peoples Health, foreigners are required to disclose certain infectious illnesses. Additional premiums may be required, and on occasion travelers are denied entry or ordered into quarantine. Foreigners who go to Bergonia for long stays or travel often to Bergonia must pay additional premiums, and may be eligible to enroll for a year at a savings. The Peoples Health does not pay for evacuations back to the United States, and this can cost well in excess of $40,000.
The process of obtaining the card upon arrival at airports and seaports can be time-consuming. However Americans may arrange to obtain a Peoples Health card from a Bergonian consulate before traveling to Bergonia. A variety of websites, both official and commercial, concerning travel to Bergonia offer on-line application services. Doing this will greatly expedite entry into the country.
The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Travelers should be aware that increasing
numbers of illegal drug users, particularly young people, experience
unanticipated serious health emergencies, including permanent brain damage and
even death, stemming from use of Methylenedioxinmethylamphetamine (MDA),
commonly known as Ecstasy or XTC, and other illegal narcotics. Such drugs
may be obtained in Bergonia. Information on
vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at
1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747, fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Bergonia is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Excellent
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Excellent
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair to Excellent
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Excellent
Travel in, around, and between cities is possible through a highly advanced national train, light rail and tram network, by buses, automobiles and motorcycles using the highway system, and by use of extensive systems of bicycle lanes, sidewalks and hiking paths for walkers. Rail is often a convenient alternative to driving, particularly in and around the cities. In particular traffic congestion is frequent in Ceiolai, Cationi, Santanier and Harler-Bathilicon.
The incidence of violence, robbery or other crime in small cities, towns and the countryside, and along highways and roads is virtually non-existent.
Child seat use is compulsory in cars. Driving is on the right side of the road. The maximum speed limit on highways is 120 km/h, with a highway speed limit of 100 km/h posted in most urban areas. Secondary roads usually have a speed limit of 80 km/h. The speed limit in towns and cities is 50 km/h, with speeds 30 km/h often posted in residential areas. Drivers must yield the right-of-way to drivers from the right at intersections or traffic circles, unless otherwise posted. The maximum allowable blood alcohol level differs among the 31 Bergonian states, between .08 and .10. Use of cellular telephones while driving is illegal in 27 of the 31 states.
Lanes at the center of many urban two-way streets are reserved for buses, trams, and taxis. In cities, pedestrians should be very mindful of trams, which often cross or share bicycle and pedestrian paths. The tram lanes are uniformly marked with orange, while bus lanes are marked with blue. Motorists must be especially mindful of the priority rights of bicyclists in virtually all situations. Many major streets have bicycle lanes, which are marked with red. Pedestrians should also pay particular attention not to walk inattentively along bicycle paths, which are often on the sidewalk and uniformly designated by red pavement or red painted stripes. Americans must be warned that traffic negligence resulting in severe injury or death is often punished in jail for short terms.
Taxi service in Bergonia is safe, but moderately expensive. Local trains and subways, trams and buses are both convenient and economical. One may obtain discounts for taxis and all forms of mass transportation with advance purchases of coupons books. There is no tipping of taxi drivers.
EMERGENCY NUMBERS: The national emergency number (equivalent to 9-1-1) is 1-1-2.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed Bergonia's Civil Aviation Authority as Category One -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for the oversight of Bergonia' air carrier operations.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Bergonian Customs authorities often enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import into Bergonia of items such as firearms, recording equipment, plants and animals, and biological agents. Likewise customs rigorously enforce prohibitions on the export of antiquities, animals and furs. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Bergonia in Washington, D.C. or one of the Bergonian consulates for specific information regarding customs requirements. Americans must be cautioned that criminal penalties in Bergonia concerning possession of antiquities and mistreatment of animals entail mandatory prison terms.
Bergonian customs authorities encourage the use of a Temporary Admission License for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. Such a license is necessary for foreigners to lawfully conduct certain kinds of business and professional activity in Bergonia.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Foreigners violating Bergonian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for breaking the law are generally less severe than in the United States for similar offenses, but many minor offenses involve jail terms of several weeks at forced labor. Moreover, penalties are mch more severe for certain offenses than in the United States, including cruelty to animals, false advertising, fraud, criminal misappropriation, criminal breach of trust, cheating in a private transaction, and disseminating information (including leaflets, handbills, mail and internet based materials) without attribution of authorship and source. Many advertising and marketing methods acceptable and common in the United States are illegal in Bergonia and punishable by imprisonment and short-term forced labor.
DRUG PENALTIES: Even though Bergonian drug laws are generally far more lenient than those in the United States, Bergonian police do strictly enforce them. Many American tourists go to Bergonia with misleading assumptions concerning the liberality of Bergonian drug laws. In fact, penalties for violations of the drug laws are in some cases explicitly harsher for foreigners than for Bergonian citizens. The possession, use and sale of marijuana are legal in limited quantities and under certain circumstances, but smoking marijuana in public is punishable in most states by a mandatory one or two day stay in jail. The law specifically prohibits foreigners from possessing large quantities of marijuana or any other drug, and imposes mandatory terms of imprisonment, but foreigners caught with large quantities of drugs, including marijuana, may reduce their sentences by payment of large fines.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATION: Americans living in or visiting Bergonia are encouraged to register at the Consulate General in Lefitoni and obtain updated information on travel and security in Bergonia. The U.S. Embassy is located in Lefitoni, at 102 Lare Shiereca; telephone 311-310-9209. However, all requests for consular assistance should be directed to the Consulate General at 19 Museishar, telephone 311-206-5661.
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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated September 14, 1997, to update information on Entry Requirements, Crime, Medical Health and Insurance, Other Health Information, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Children's Issues, and to delete Y2K information.
Return to Consular Information Sheets and Travel Warnings Page
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