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The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides consular information sheets, travel warnings, and public announcements. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at tel. 202-647-5225 or via the fax-on-demand system: tel. 202/647-3000. Consular Information Sheets and Travel Warnings also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page at http://travel.state.gov.

Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia are generally safe for tourists, though you should exercise the same caution you would in any unfamiliar city and always be aware of your surroundings when walking in less trafficked areas or at night.

Bulgaria, Romania, and Russia are less safe, and visitors should take precautions to keep their valuables secure from pickpockets and others who prey on the unaware in major cities. Corruption is widespread in these developing countries and visitors should be skeptical about policemen who stop you and demand payment for fines levied for bogus charges. If you are confronted with a policeman demanding cash on the spot to pay a fine assessed for an alleged infraction, you should insist on going to the nearest police station to pay. Before you go out, put jewelry and laptops in the hotel safe if you will be gone for the day and don't need them. Never leave any valuables or documents, including passports, in your hotel room when you are gone.

Dealing with Discrimination

Discrimination in Romania is usually reserved for members of the Roma minority (Gypsies) and for children with HIV. Bulgaria is slowly coming into compliance with E.U. antidiscrimination guidelines, but it, too, denies equal treatment to Roma (and women in general). The Russian constitution states that everyone is equal before the law and prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, or language, but there is no provision for punishment of anyone who breaks the law. In Russia, most discrimination is aimed at former Soviet citizens and select minorities, including the Roma. In the other Eastern European countries covered in this book, discrimination is largely based on internal conflicts and aimed at ethnic groups within the various countries.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.