Banana republic



any of the small countries in the tropics, especially in the Western Hemisphere, whose economies are largely dependent on fruit exports, tourism, and foreign investors.
Contemporary Examples

Opponents said Sarkozy backing his son for the job made France look like a “banana republic.”
A Sarkozy Is Born Tracy McNicoll October 19, 2011

Tropico is the excellent nation-builder game that simulates a Caribbean banana republic during the Cold War.
Nerdiness from Noah: How Tropico Taught Me Central Planning Can’t Work Noah Kristula-Green April 19, 2013

If those consumers get their hands on some money, they’ll move upmarket to Crate and Barrel and banana republic.
The Real Lesson of JC Penney: Sometimes, You’re Stuck Megan McArdle April 10, 2013

This time we are back in 1941 and flit from Berlin (“the capital of a banana republic that had run out of bananas”) to Prague.
Must Read Fiction: ‘Prague Fatale,’ ‘Derby Day’ and More Malcolm Forbes, Hillary Kelly, Mythili Rao May 8, 2012

Historical Examples

At that time we had a treaty with about every foreign country except Belgium and that banana republic, Anchuria.
Cabbages and Kings O. Henry

noun
(derogatory) a small country, esp in Central America, that is politically unstable and has an economy dominated by foreign interest, usually dependent on one export, such as bananas
n.

“small Central American state with an economy dependent on banana production,” 1901, American English.

noun phrase

A small country, esp Central American, dominated by foreign companies

[1930s+; fr the fact that such places were typically under the control of the United Fruit Company and grew bananas]

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