COUNTRY DESCRIPTION ^
Montserrat is a British overseas territory and part of the British West Indies . The island rises in a series of mountain slopes to a high point of over 3,000 feet at the Soufriere Volcano in the exclusion zone.
SAFETY AND SECURITY ^
Montserrat is a volcanic island. Ongoing eruption of Soufriere Hills Volcano in the south of the island has led since 1995 to the evacuation and relocation of residents in the so called �exclusion zone' there. Additional evacuations may occur if volcanic activity increases. The dome of the volcano collapsed on July 12, 2003 , covering roads and buildings with ash. There has been greatly reduced volcanic activity since then. However, because the volcano is still active and dangerous, access to the southern part of the island is restricted. Persons entering restricted areas without authorization are subject to fine and/or imprisonment. Except for falling ash, which can be heavy at times, life in the northern part of the island is normal and there is no direct danger to tourists or residents.
The crime rate in Montserrat is low; however, travelers should take normal, common sense precautions. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and displaying expensive jewelry; use hotel safety deposit facilities to safeguard valuables and travel documents.
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. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Montserrat's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Montserrat are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
MEDICAL FACILITIES ^
The main hospital can handle most routine and surgical emergencies, however, there is no hyperbaric chamber in Montserrat. Doctors in private practice are also available. A dental clinic is offered, as are private dentistry services. Arrangements can be made quickly to transfer more serious problems off island by helicopter to Antigua or Guadeloupe.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS ^
In addition to the hazards posed by the Soufriere Volcano as outlined above, Montserrat can be affected by hurricanes. The hurricane season normally runs from June to the end of November, but there have been hurricanes in December in recent years. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at
http://www.fema.gov. The official Montserrat Volcano Observatory website,
www.mvo.ms, is helpful for updates on volcanic activity.
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 Montserrat is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: N/A
Montserrat, vehicles are operated on the left-hand side of the road. There is no organized government roadside assistance, but local residents are often willing to aid those with car trouble.
For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at
http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Montserrat driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Montserrat Tourist Board in Montserrat at tel. 1 (664) 491-2230 or 491-8730. You may also email them at
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT ^
There is no air service to Monserrat at present, therefore, no assessment by The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is available.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at
http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. In addition, the DOD does not permit its personnel to use air carriers from Category 2 countries for official business except for flights originating from or terminating in the United States. Local exceptions may apply. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.
Please also refer to the separate Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.
January 14, 2004