What Is a Banana Republic?
A banana republic is not an official term for a government but rather a satirical and often condescending term. This derogatory term can be applied to governments with continuing problems, use authoritarian rule, or have problematic or corrupt government officials. The term banana republic was first used in the 20th century in a short story titled "Rouge et Noir," which detailed a fictional country plagued with governmental challenges. In the story, the fictional country was based on today's Honduras, which has been troubled with political and social upheaval. Banana exports led to a corrupt government, which created the term a banana republic.
How Can You Identify a Banana Republic?
It can be difficult to identify because a banana republic is not an official term applied to different methods for the ruling or poetical alignment. Usually, a banana republic will have at least one of the following characteristics that lead to a plagued, troubled, or corrupt government. Generally, a banana republic will see continued civil unrest leading to insurgencies or coup attempts.
An unstable government is largely driven by widespread corruption by government officials. Further, the government may be oppressive and heavily oppose the lower class. Usually, banana republics have widespread poverty with an economic dependency on the upper class or business elites. There is a significant gap between the upper classes and the lower class citizens. Most of the country's infrastructure will be owned by foreign investors, and the country's economic standing will be based on minimal natural resources.
What Are Banana Republic Countries?
A banana republic is not an official type of government but rather a term used to describe a corrupt or unbalanced government. Although many of these countries claim to have a standard government in place, they can best be described as banana republics because of the high level of corruption. Some common countries thought to have a banana republic include Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nigeria, Panama, Nicaragua, Zambia, and Botswana.
It is important to remember that a banana republic may not show all the tell-tale symptoms of having corruption and may show one or two. Further, a banana republic can transform into a legitimate government once the corrupt officials are removed from power. A banana republic could change to a valid form of government, making the term banana republic no longer applicable. Of course, it is also entirely possible for a perfectly legitimate government to transform into a banana republic with the wrong people in power.