Visas: Citizens of the USA, Canada, Argentina, Israel, Japan, Panama, Romania, South Korea, Uruguay, the UK and most Western European countries do not need a visa for a 90-day stay. Citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Eire, France, Sweden and most of Eastern Europe and Latin America can stay 30 days without a visa. If you do need a visa, you can get one from the Costa Rican consulate for around US$20. Public holidays: New Year’s Day; St Joseph (19 March); National Heroes (11 April); Maundy Thursday; Good Friday; Holy Saturday; Labour Day; Corpus Christi; St Peter and St Paul (29 June); Annexation of Guanacaste (25 July); Our Lady of the Angels (2 Aug); Mothers’ Day (15 Aug); Independence Day (15 Sept); Day of Race (12 Oct); Immaculate Conception; Christmas. Good buys: Coffee and Costa Rican artisania, including leather goods and painted woodwork. Local dishes: Popular dishes include sopa negra (a blackbean and poached egg soup), casado (rice, beans, stewed beef and cabbage) and tortas (tortillas with meat and vegetables). Interesting fact: After a bloody civil war in 1948, Costa Rica disbanded its army and passed a law forbidding the maintenance of a standing army.
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