banana republic

banana republics

A banana republic is a country with an economy that depends almost entirely on one product and heavily favors a wealthy elite.

The writer O. Henry coined the term banana republic, using it in 1904 to describe a fictional country modeled on Honduras. In real life, U.S.-owned fruit companies had recently introduced Americans to the banana, exploiting the economies of small tropical nations to cash in on the newly popular fruit. These powerful companies essentially controlled Honduras and other countries politically, making them so-called banana republics. Today the term is used more broadly, for despotic nations with limited resources.

Definitions of banana republic
  1. noun
    a small country (especially in Central America) that is politically unstable and whose economy is dominated by foreign companies and depends on one export (such as bananas)
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    type of:
    country, land, state
    the territory occupied by a nation
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