banana republic

banana republic


  • a small, poor country with a weak, corrupt or dishonest government
  • a small country, run by corrupt politicians and they are usually dependent on one commodity
  • a derogatory term used to describe a small tropical state (usually in Central America) that is dependent on the export of fruit for survival

Example Sentences

  1. If the current Prime Minister wins the election again, nobody can save our country from becoming a banana republic.
  2. “Trump was talking like he would become some dictator of a banana republic and throw [Clinton] and his political enemies in jail.”
  3. We are a banana republic because of the insensitive and inept governance that De Lima seeks to protect with a ferocity that brooks no opposition even from a coequal branch like the judiciary, Quicho said, echoing the Vice President’s tirades against the Aquino administration.
  4. The citizens fear that the country will become a banana republic if the government fails to curb the corruption.
  5. “Mango people in banana republic” is the fresh idioms additions to the Indian political lexicon by Robert Vadra.


The term was first used in 1904 by American writer O Henry. While on the run from the government, after being charged with embezzlement, he found refuge in a cheap hotel in Honduras. While there he wrote a collection of short stories called “Cabbages and Kings”.

One of the stories was set in the fictional country of Anchuria, a “small, maritime banana republic”. It was evident that the country he had used as inspiration was Honduras.

The “banana republic” originated when Captain Lorenzo D. Baker, introduced the banana to the Western world. He bought them in Jamaica and sold them in Boston at a 1000% profit. The country became a single-purpose economy to the US.

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1 Thought

This is my favorite idiom, thanks for detailed information, but I want to know the origin of this idiom.

- Branda English August 8, 2013

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