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Banana Republic

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They're bananas, all right.

"Although the United States is, uh, a very rich country and San Marcos is a very poor one, there are a great many things we have to offer your country in return for aid. For instance, there, uh, there are locusts."

For added atmosphere, listen to this while reading.

Any backwards Latin American country, usually fictitious, that is ruled by a small corrupt clique. The leader is often a military officer who took power through The Coup and then appointed unqualified cronies to government positions. The dictator and cronies mismanage the country and treat it like their personal bank for paying for Conspicuous Consumption and lavish lifestyles. Their regime glorifies the military, so leaders act like The Generalissimo and wear dress officer's uniforms with rows of medals—even if they didn't earn the rank.

The main goal of the government leaders is self-enrichment, so public services—policing, garbage disposal, and health care— are barely provided. The exception is the military, which is the one government unit that gets a steady paycheck (because the military keeps the leader in power). The few public servants are corrupt cronies who will only do anything if you offer a bribe. Business investors flee this corrupt regime, because you never know when your firm will be "nationalized" by the government and your assets seized. As a result, the GDP and living standards plummet—except within El Presidente's luxurious compound, where imported champagne flows like water.

The terms has its origins in the United Fruit Company (known today as Chiquita), an honest-to-god MegaCorp with a Corrupt Corporate Executive approach. With the help of their buddies in the CIA, and some well-intentioned and not-so-well-intentioned American presidents, United Fruit created countless US-friendly military dictatorships throughout the tropics dedicated to growing bananas. In these countries, United Fruit paid extremely low wages and close to zero taxes. As a result, left-wing guerrilla uprisings mushroomed all over Latin America, followed by even more US-backed paramilitaries and death squads, and thus began a cycle of civil wars and dictatorial overthrows that continued until the fall of the communist bloc.

Since it was usually left-wing guerrillas who opposed the dictatorships note  in Latin America, such as the 26th of July Movement in Cuba and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the term is associated with countries that have governments that are controlled by multinational corporations, and not with just any decadent dictatorship per se. In Europe and the U.S, the connotation tends to fall more closely with that of any dictatorship in any tropical country, capitalist, socialist, or what have you. Although, possible exceptions notwithstanding, there aren't really any left in Latin America these days, they can still be found in Africa and Southeast Asia.

May be called "Val Verde". As seen below, however, there is a whole catalogue of fictional names for these countries.

Similar to Ruritania, Qurac, Bulungi and Tropical Island Adventure, but easier to fake on a budget (in the US). See also Latin Land. A Sub-Trope of The Dictatorship, and closely related to One Nation Under Copyright and Puppet State.

No relation to the clothing brand nor the Banana Guy.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Lupin III: Dead or Alive, the fictional country of Zufu gets a subtle Lampshade Hanging by being placed in the Banana Republic. The corrupt government is a military dictatorship, which has actually sent the previously prosperous nation into a sharp decline. At the end, the dictatorship is overthrown, but no government is set up to replace it, yet. Other indicators suggest that the nation is Latin American.
  • A mild version in Michiko & Hatchin. There are police, but they're rarely there when you need them. However, since the main character is a criminal, the law's absence may be justified.
  • Val Verde apears in the anime series Symphogear, mainly in the backstory of one of the main heroines, Chris Yukine.

    Comic Books 
  • San Theodoros, in the Tintin series, notable for having two rival military juntas who take turns ousting each other. General Alcazar's junta is even said to be financed by a banana company in Tintin and the Picaros. However, the rival junta of General Tapioca (yes, Tapioca) has more in common with the stereotype - lots of hideously over the top Putting on the Reich uniforms, cigars, foreign aid (the fictional Communist state of Borduria).
    • And to round out the stereotypes, a dash of Argentina Is Nazi-Land thanks to Colonel Sponz'.
    • Worse: in "The Broken Ear", we see two representatives of different oil companies addressing to the presidents of San Theodoros and the neighbouring Republic of Nuevo Rico, which then fight over a piece of land shared by both, where Oil has been found. At the end of the episode, some scientist realizes there is not Oil there, actually. Then we see a newspaper's headline announcing the end of the war. Meanwhile, a representative of (legal) weapon dealers visits both governments, one after another selling them expensive equipment for the war.
  • Managua in Buck Danny, located in the Caribbean sea. It appear 2 or 3 time in the course of the series with different governement each time. Two albums took place there during one of those revolution.
    • Funnily enough, a real place with that name exists, except it's not a country, but a city - it's the capital of Nicaragua.
  • Corto Maltese, the island nation which the US and the Soviet Union went to war over in the 1986 graphic novel series Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (named after the lead character in the Italian comic series of the same name). It was also mentioned in Batman (1989).
  • Santa Prisca shows up a lot in various Batman-related titles.
  • Ciudad Barranquilla from the Judge Dredd comics fits this type to a T, but is notable in that the corrupt and murderous regime was recently replaced by an (equally corrupt and murderous) puppet regime by the Judges of Mega City One.
  • Sierra Gordo in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel). They even had a revolution which was fomented by the North American Banana Monopoly.
  • Palombia in Spirou & Fantasio. Its political regime is so unstable, revolutions are a quasi-daily occurrence.
  • Benoit Brisefer had one where the dictatorship was split between the three generals of the army, air force and navy. Thanks to A-Team Firing, the citizens go about their business as usual, though they complain that the melons without bullet holes are getting expensive.
  • Tapasambal (a Mexican rather than South American version, the economy is based on the cactus) and Platopabo (government agents, revolutionaries, counter-revolutionaries, counter-counter-revolutionaries, and the natives) in Achille Talon.
  • Costa Verde in XIII. The local Che Guevara analogue turned out to have betrayed the hero to the government because of his It's All About Me attitude.
  • The sheer number of these in the Marvel Universe is revealed with the Marvel Atlas. In Central/South America alone, there's Costa Verde, Terra Verde and Tierra Verde, all of which were created at different times for different comics.
  • One Chick Tract portrayed one of these, threatened by a (cynical) communist revolutionary, in "Fat Cats" (1989).
  • Zymbodia and Zhato in Love and Rockets. Less stereotypical than many examples since the creators are Hispanic.
  • A cartoon that ran in one magazine showed Hispanic-looking revolutionaries overrunning the dictator's office. The dictator, confronting the revolutionary leader, snarled, "You fool — I'm CIA, too!"
  • Bazililand in Steelgrip Starkey and the All-Purpose Power Tool, ruled by the dictator General Kingu.
  • Ric Hochet has the country of Varaiso in South America, which is ran by a military dictatorship. While a great resort for tourism, Ric is disgusted that visitors are actually enjoying themselves and turn a blind eye to the people's poverty. His father Richard is helping to stage a coup and Ric is dragged along.
  • A particularly shining example in The Punisher MAX miniseries Barracuda. The current president got rich from the contra deals (and had an enormous statue of Ronald Reagan built in his mansion's yard in gratitude), his country is a major exporter of drugs (which the US isn't doing anything about since he was put there by the CIA), and is nearly ousted by a rival general.
  • A People's History of the American Empire portrays Nicaragua under the infamous Somoza dynasty this way, a setting which was one of the main reasons this trope exists.
  • In the 2007 revival of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, writer Steven E. de Souza switched from its original Darkest Africa setting to his recurring fictional country, Val Verde (which the Live-Action Film section has more information on).
  • The Mortadelo y Filemón story Valor y... ¡al toro! has the unsubtlely named Republic of Banania.
  • The Flash vol 2 #53 has Wally and Superman investigating the country of San Felipe, after a minor supervillain called the Silver Squid took Jimmy Olsen hostage and demanded they bring him the dictator Hector Esquelito ... who had been deposed and killed two years earlier. It turns out that San Felipe used to be a communist dictatorship, then was take over by Esquelito in a military coup backed by the CIA (which is how the Squid got involved; he was a former CIA asset), before becoming a democracy after Esqualito's apparent death. Except it hadn't. Esquelito was still running the country in secret, still backed by the CIA. The Flash took him to the Squid, stopped the Squid from killing him, and left Esquelito wandering Keystone city in his underwear ranting about how important he was. We're not told what happened to him after that.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Military Republic of Santa Banana in French Canadian film Elvis Gratton. Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a backward Spanish-speaking tropical island-state, complete with its dictators and military coups. The national airline is called Air Banana and the national food is... you guessed it.
  • It is heavily implied that the Mirandan Republic in The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is like this. "Mirandan", as in famous banana-wearing dancer Carmen Miranda.
  • Head Office : Helmes tries to finance a coup in an impoverished dictatorship run by over-the-top Latin American soldiers.
  • James Bond
  • Parador from the romantic comedy Moon over Parador is another classic example (with a wonderful performance by Raúl Juliá as the Evil Chancellor).
  • Val Verde is an especially prolific Banana Republic placeholder in fiction land. It originally appeared, or was referenced, in three action movies: Commando, Predator, and Die Hard 2 (and later in the video game parodying such movies, Bro Force), but has been featured or homaged in the TV shows Supercarrier and NCIS, the comic series Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, and many, many more. It started as a little in-joke for screenwriter Steven E. de Souza, who had a family background in Latin America and the Caribbean and wanted to set his action movies there without causing legal or diplomatic problems with portrayals of real countries, and then just grew from there.
  • La República De Los Cocos (The Republic of The Coconuts) in Su Excelencia is like this to the point of having 4 presidents in 20 minutes.
  • Paradiso, the South American island country in Harold Lloyd's silent 1923 comedy Why Worry?. Harold goes there for a vacation and finds himself in the middle of a revolution.
  • San Carlos in the Chuck Norris action vehicle Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection.
  • A lot of the action in The Expendables takes place on an island said to be between the Gulf of Mexico and South America called Vilena.
  • The Republic of Costa Estrella, the rival state of the Kingdom of Costa Luna, in Princess Protection Program, ruled by a Large Ham of a military dictator.
  • In the film The In-Laws, General Garcia's mansion is located on United Fruit Way.
  • In the Dutch movie Abeltje, the entire second half takes place in the fictional banana republic Perugona (an island micro-nation off the coast of Argentina according to the maps) where one of the main characters, a clueless moth ball salesman, is made El Presidente just after a coup by the guerillas has ousted the previous leader. There's even a scene right after the coup where the guerilla leader fantasizes about being the president, before realizing that his reign would probably be a bit too short for his own liking and appointing a puppet would be wiser.
  • San Marcos in, um, Bananas, seems to be based on Revolution-era Cuba and has all the usual banana republic hallmarks, although Woody Allen himself claimed to have given the film that title because there aren't any bananas in it.
  • Batista-era Cuba in The Godfather Part II certainly qualifies, although Cuba isn't a big banana exporter per se and even its sugar exportation isn't quite discussed in this film. It is still a huge cash cow for who else but the Mob, and military dictator Batista is certainly happy to keep it that way, as his conference with the Mafia Dons makes clear. In fact, the movie, whose present day is set in 1958–59, runs right into the Cuban Revolution.
  • Moldonia in Special Forces is a rather blatant stand-in for Eastern Europe, under the rule of a harsh dictator who perform acts of ethnic cleansing on a regular basis. The titular Special Forces arrives in the country to rescue a kidnapped reporter, but ends up liberating Moldonia by the end of the film.
  • Amigo is set during the Philippine-American War circa 1900, and though it's mostly background detail, the First Philippine Republic as depicted in there ticks off several boxes under this trope: it's tropical, heavily Hispanic-influenced (having just broken free from 300+ years of Spanish rule), dominated by a highly militarised, oligarchic leadership—and is, of course, in open conflict with the United States, which sadly wins.
  • Similarly, the Filipino Biopic Heneral Luna, also set during the Philippine-American War, follows its titular Historical Domain Character as the chief-of-staff of the Revolutionary Army of the First Philippine Republic, and the internal infighting of that highly militarised, oligarchic leadership is full on display in this filmnote .
    • Ditto for Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral, with the same setting as the above, only now following Gen. Gregorio del Pilar, one of Aguinaldo's proteges and suspected to be behind the killings of some of Luna's men, if not Luna himself.
  • The plot of Invisible Avenger centres around Pablo Ramirez, the exiled ruler of a Caribbean nation of Santa Cruz, who was ousted by the dictator known as the Generalissimo. Ramirez is organizing a rebellion against the Generalissimo while the Generalissimo's secret police scour New Orleans for him.
  • State of Siege features an unnamed Latin American country that's heavily modeled on Uruguay, which is where Dan Mitrione was kidnapped and later executed by the Tupamaros, which was fighting against governments backed by the United Fruit Company.
    • missing. - which, like the above film, was directed by Costa-Gavras - is also set in an unnamed Latin American country, but is clearly meant to represent Chile, since the movie depicts the disappearance and execution of American Charles Horman during the 1973 coup.

  • Russian joke: What's the difference between an oil state and a banana republic? Bananas are a renewable resource.

  • Older Than Television: Several of O. Henry's writings take place in these. His Cabbages and Kings (1904) is the origin of the term "banana republic" and it plays most of the associated tropes straight - fictional Anchuria is described as a "volatile republic", its government is under strong influence of The Vesuvius Fruit Company, most politicians and public officials are corrupt, and in the end it's stated that newly installed president Ramon Olivarra (who is otherwise portrayed as sympathetic) was backed by Vesuvius business interests too.
  • The Sympathizer: The narrator, a Communist spy who thinks very little of the South Vietnamese government, refers to South Vietnam as a "jackfruit republic."
  • The unnamed country in the Stephen King short story In The Deathroom.
  • Canastarica, a Central American republic in the parodic gangster novels about "Dickie" Dick Dickens by Rolf and Alexandra Becker. The protagonist accidentally becomes dictator there, but absconds when he sees the risks inherent in the job.
  • Vespugia, in Madeleine L'Engle's A Swiftly Tilting Planet.
  • Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut largely takes place in a fictional banana republic, the island of San Lorenzo.
  • Joseph Conrad's 1904 novel Nostromo is set in Costaguana, a fictional South American banana republic that is also prone to revolution. Much political power is held by a foreign mining company. That last part is somewhat of a reflection of the state of affairs in Cuba pre-Castro, although it was sugar there.
  • The Republic Of Sacramento from the Brazilian novel O Senhor Embaxaidor. The story is pretty much a dead ringer of the history of Cuba in the 1940's and 1950's
  • The Republic of Fernando Poo in the Illuminatus! Trilogy, an island (a real one, by the way) off the West Coast of Africa where Captain Jesus Tequila y Mota has seized power and seceded from Equatorial Guinea, precipitating a civil war and an international confrontation between the U.S., the Soviet Union and China (but it's all part of the Illuminati's Evil Plan to Immanentize the Eschaton). For the record: "Jesus Tequila y Mota" means "Jesus Tequila and Weed".
  • Tom Hauptman spent ten years imprisoned in one of these in the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon story "The Time Traveller".
  • The eponymous San Sombrèro in San Sombrèro: A Land of Carnivals, Cocktails and Coups (from the creators of Molvania and Phaic Tan).
  • Recycled In Space in The Stainless Steel Rat For President. "Slippery Jim" diGriz seeks to topple a planetary dictator by exploiting his need to maintain a facade of democracy.
  • The village of Macondo in One Hundred Years of Solitude is set in such a country (assumed to be Colombia.) The story comes complete with banana-growing plantation owned by the notoriously corrupt United Fruit Company, which in the book persuades the Colombian army to massacre all the workers. This actually happened in real life and is remembered as the massacre of the banana growers (masacre de los bananeros).
  • Although The Kingdoms of Evil resemble Mordor, they are actually a Banana Republic.
  • Simon Templar, in Leslie Charteris' original novella "The Wonderful War", helped overthrow the corrupt government of the Republic of Pasala, which was actually a Oil Republic. In the TV series, the episode of the same title changed the setting to a Qurac.
  • San Marcos in Richard Powell's Don Quixote, U.S.A.. Woody Allen may or may not have read this particular novel before making Bananas.
  • Boca Grande in Joan Didion's 1977 novel A Book of Common Prayer.
  • Nick Velvet: In "The Theft of the Meager Beavers" (one of the odder entries in the series), Nick is hired to steal a baseball team and deliver them to a specific banana republic.
  • Aguazual in The Squares of the City.
  • In the fourth book of The Dire Saga, Dire is working with the Peace Corps in the South American city of Isla Mariposa when the revolution accidentally gets kicked off and Dire finds she needs to seize control of the country to guide it to survival.
  • Banco is set against the backdrop of twenty years of Venezuela's turbulent political climate. Coup d'etats are a too common fact of life in the country and the government forcefully changes hands multiple times during the book. Papillon is briefly an accessory to a failed coup attempt when his desire to bankroll his revenge reaches a truly desperate level—otherwise he wants nothing to do with revolutionaries, in part because he feels a debt of gratitude to the Betancourt government for setting him free and giving him a second chance. Things become dicey in the later years when he's making an honest living with Rita under the Jiménez regime, who employs Secret Police to hunt down dissenters and squeeze legitimate business owners until his overthrow in 1958.
  • Santa Barbara under the dictator Don Lopez de Meruel, as described in Sard Harker and Odtaa. Complete with a foreign corporation, the United Sugar Company, propping up the dictatorship in support of its own economic interests.
  • The Courts of the Morning is set in Olifa, a South American republic whose President and cabinet are in the pocket of a multinational mining corporation whose copper exports are the mainstay of its prosperity. A revolution by Oliferans who want their country's destiny back in Oliferan hands takes up a large part of the plot.
  • The real Philippines as depicted in several novels touching on the Marcos dictatorship in The '70s and The '80s:
  • Dancing Aztecs: Descalzo, the country the titular statue was stolen from is a rural, poorly developed backwater ruled over by a President for Life who is implied to have murdered his predecessor and has people hanged by their tongues.

    Live-Action TV 
  • MacGyver (1985) found himself in quite a few of these in Latin America as well as Africa. One particular episode had Mac being sequestered by his CIA operative friend Abe into kidnapping a South American dictator. When Abe tells Mac this is because said dictator was on CIA's payroll, only for him to double cross them, we get this priceless exchange:
    Mac: I don't believe it. First Noriega, then Iran-Contra now this! Tell me, is there anyone you guys haven't financed yet?
    Abe: [as if stating the incredibly obvious] The Democrats!
  • The IMF in Mission: Impossible were dispatched to one of these countries almost every episode where they weren't sent to Ruritania, it seems.
  • Airwolf featured a few as the source of the antagonist(s) of the episode.
  • Argentinian comedian Alberto Olmedo made a series of sketches called "Pais Bananero" (Banana Country) about a stereotyped Banana Republic whose name was "Costa Pobre" (Pobre = Poor).
  • The A-Team tended to travel to one of these every few episodes. Sometimes it would a horribly stereotypical version of a real country, like Venezuela and Colombia in a Season 2 episode, but it could also be a fictional country, like the uncreatively named "Republic of Caraguay."
  • Parks and Recreation used the real Venezuela for the episode "Sister City", which centers around visiting delegates from Pawnee's sister city in that country. The main cast assume Venezuela is a poor, developing-nation version of this trope and try to introduce the visitors to many of their first world luxuries, until the delegates explain that their government is actually very rich because of Venezuela's oil deposits and that rural, working-class Pawnee looks/smells like garbage to them in comparison. On the other hand (and this is also true, more or less), Venezuela is portrayed as more or less an oppressive regime with a Cult of Personality around Hugo Chávez and substantial but not-frequently-talked-about inequality.note 
  • Chuck has "Costa Gravas", with a hammy Fidel Castro-ish leader to boot. One episode has Premier Alejandro Goya (played by Armand Assante) overthrown by his Number Two in cahoots with Goya's own wife, supposedly because Goya has forgotten his revolutionary (i.e. communist) ideals and has become a typical decadent dictator. It later turns out that she was merely upset that her husband does not take her seriously (yes, a marriage squabble that results in a coup). Everything goes back to normal (with the exception of the Evil Chancellor, who gets arrested) once the couple reconciles, and Goya makes his wife the Secretary of State.
  • The classic Israeli skit show The Chamber Quintet had a series of skits referring to the concept. Several actors (one at a time) would make long rants about something that annoys them to the person responsible (one talks about the poor product quality at the café he’s in, another about her spouse’s poor sexual habits, another about the poor quality of a book he’d bought), ending the rant with, ‘What is this, a banana republic?!’ In the final skit, another actor walks around a supermarket, accidentally gets hit on the head by a cluster of bananas hung by a string, and says, ‘What is this, a banana republic?!’
  • The Fast Show had a recurring sketch featuring a TV channel called 'Chanel 9', from a fictitious European country called "Republicca Democratia Militaria", run by El Presidente. The country is a parody of the sort of TV seen by British tourists in Spain during Franco's rule, with elements of other Mediterranean countries thrown in.
  • The pilot episode of Mr. Lucky is set on the Spanish-speaking island-nation of "Guatamaca," presumed to be located somewhere in the Caribbean Sea, ruled by a corrupt dictator.
  • JAG: Subverted in the ninth season episode “Secret Agent Man”. While on a CIA mission in the Philippines, Harm’s partner Beth O’Neill has managed to get caught by the local police. Harm goes to the police station and tries to first play the act of an ignorant American tourist. When that doesn’t work he changes to a tactic which completely misfires.
    Harm: All right, I get it. What's it gonna cost?
    Police Officer: What? You think that we are some kind of banana republic here where every official is for sale? You listen to me. You just go back to your nice comfortable tourist hotel and you think about it. (Starts shouting aggressively in Tagalog)
  • On My Name Is Earl, Catalina is from one of these. The country is variously somewhere in Mexico, La Paz, Bolivia, and "Guadelatucky."
  • Get Smart visited several of these.
  • Scorpion sees most of the team kidnapped and taken to somewhere that speaks Spanish, and the team goes through a list of potential countries within a three-and-a-half hour flight from Los Angeles. "Guatemala, Honduras...I hope it's not Norteguay." Almost immediately, their captors come in to formally welcome them to Norteguay.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): "The Mirror" begins with Ramos Clemente having seized power in an unnamed country in Central America, which had been ruled by General De Cruz for the previous ten years.
  • The F.B.I.: "The Exiles" features Balagua: an obvious stand-in for Cuba. Erskine and Jim have to infiltrate a group of Balaguan exiles in Florida who are planning a military invasion of the island.
  • In the Gilligan's Island episode "The Little Dictator", the ex-president of one of these visits the island. From the way he describes what's been going on there, it's a politically unstable place with no one staying in power for long. The country is called Ecuarico, which is probably meant to be a portmanteau of Ecuador and Puerto Rico.

  • Lampshaded by The Ramones in "Havana Affair".
  • The Bruce Cockburn song "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" was written in response to visiting a Guatemalan refugee camp in Mexico, and talks about the helicopters which regularly crossed the border to strafe it.
  • The Boomtown Rats did a single called Banana Republic, a scathing, and regarded as most unpatriotic, Take That! at the Republic of Ireland, which they likened to a third world corrupt Latin American dictatorship, only attached to the edge of Europe. At the time (middle-late 1970's) Ireland was something of a backwater state, relatively poor, marginalised, and economically dependent on Great Britain. Bob Geldof and the boys went to town on their native country being socially repressive and over-religious.
    ''Everywhere you go, Everywhere you see,
    Black and blue uniforms — police and priests!

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Eclipse Phase, the bioconservative Jovian Junta Republic is essentially a Banana Republic IN SPACE!
  • Junta is set in such a country, called "La Republica de los Bananas". It might actually be a Stealth Pun, at least in Portuguese: since things have gender in Romance languages, the correct form should be "La Republica de las Bananas", since bananas use female articles. Instead it's an adjective due to it using a male article, with "bananas" being a slang term with the same meaning that it has in English: crazy. Each player represents a faction within the corrupt ruling clique, and the goal of the game is to successfully divert foreign aid money into your Swiss Bank Account before foreign aid runs out.
  • The Tropicana setting for Savage Worlds. Its an open secret that the Presidential Republic of San Jose is quietly run by an collection of oligarchs who intended it to be this. The nation has no extradition treaties, and is not even officially recognized by the UN. The various criminal groups, terrorists, and spy agencies are allowed to operate undisturbed, as long as they do nothing blatant enough that would interfere with the thriving tourism or draw too much international attention.

  • Larry Gelbart's satirical play Mastergate: A Play on Words has not one but two. The play, which presents itself as a mock senate hearing about the latest government scandal, concerns the nation of Ambigua and the Republic of San Elvador, and the shady dealings of the military, CIA, IRS, the Vice President and the President.

    Video Games 
  • The fictional county of Meruza (likely named after the Argentine city/province of Mendoza) in the Japan-only game Aconcagua is described at the beginning as being under a military dictatorship. Unlike most examples, it appears to be more mountainous (then again, the only part of Meruza you mostly get to see is on the eponymous mountain).
  • ARMA: Armed Assault (aka Combat Operations) has the Democratic Republic of Sahrani in the northern half of the fictional Caribbean island of Sahrani.
  • The fictional South American nation of Realia in Boiling Point: Road to Hell is a textbook example, with no less than seven different factions (the corrupt government, communist guerrilla insurrectionists, the local drug cartel, the CIA, old-fashioned bandits, the civilians and the indigenous natives) vying for control or just trying to survive within its borders. Protagonist Saul Myers is here because his daughter Lisa is an Intrepid Reporter who went missing investigating some shady business going on inside, and in his quest to get her back will find himself making friends and enemies of all sides and double-dealing each side to build up the cash to grease hands and find the info to her. It's also the location of a madman with a giant mind-control device.
  • Brigador is set in Solo Nobre, a city that's essentially a Banana Republic city in space. The city was previously ruled by brutally exploitative off-world corporations who were overthrown in a left-wing revolution, which over time became a corrupt dictatorship that enforces its rule by martial law, yet for some people, this beats the hell out of rampant, uncontrolled crime and outrageous water prices. The city is Portuguese-influenced filtered through the lens of Cyberpunk with a dash of North Korea-style Juche philosophy for flavor, and comes with characteristic features such as sprawling favelas, soul-crushing poverty, colliding cultures, and meddling outside influences.
  • What with it being a parody of '80s action films and all, it only figures that Broforce would take place in the fictional Val Verde, like some of its Live-Action Film inspirations did.
  • Criminal Case: World Edition has the country of Luzaguay in Case 45, located where the Easter Island would be outside the Criminal Case universe. It's a fascist dictatorship ruled by President Adolfo Herrera working under the orders of SOMBRA.
  • Dictator, an obscure text-based ZX Spectrum game, allows you to control the people of another fictional republic of Ritimba... not for long, still, due to it being an Endless Game (it's impossible to please every layer of society, you see). Sidenote
  • Sierra's adventure game EcoQuest 2 appears to be set in one. The guard at the beginning easily accepts bribes and the corrupt Cibola Development company can get away with just about anything.
  • Far Cry 6 is set in the Caribbean country of Yara, a Spanish-speaking dictatorship based on Cuba which fits this to a T.
  • Grand Theft Auto Online adds Cayo Perico, a private island located off the Caribbean coast of Colombia that's owned by the drug lord Juan "El Rubio" Strickler. In addition to serving as the seat of his criminal empire, when you visit it it's also playing host to a music festival, in a reference to the infamous Fyre Festival.
  • The Hearts of Iron IV mod The Road to 56 allows Honduras to become a fascist "Banana Empire" under United Fruit.
  • In Hidden Agenda (1988), you play the president of Chimerica, a Central American country whose military dictatorship has just recently been overthrown.
  • Arulco and Tracona from Jagged Alliance 2, though Arulco can't quite decide if it wants to be a South American hellhole or an Eastern European one. Parts of the country are covered in pine forests and wooden houses, others are desert or jungle. Accents are all over the place, with Spanish, American, Polish, Russian and German all appearing on Arulco natives. The Big Bad is explicitly stated to be Romanian, and your employer bears the rather Latin-sounding name Enrico Chivaldori. Also, the country's main export is silver, rather than bananas, and is explicitly stated to have been a fairly self-supporting agricultural nation before the Big Bad came to power.
  • The Just Cause series lets you loose as a CIA agent tasked with overthrowing a junta on fictional island nations (San Esperito in the first game, the more unusual Southeast Asian-style dictatorship of Panau in the second, the Mediterranean island of Medici in the third), and the fourth game is set in a fictional South American country called Solis.
  • Même les pommes de terre ont des yeux!, a French Adventure Game for the Apple ][, is set in a fictional "Répoublique" where El Presidente has just been overthrown by a dictator.
  • The main character in Mercenaries 2 helps turn Venezuela into this in the intro and spends the rest of the game "fixing" it.
  • The Metal Gear series has Outer Heaven in the original Metal Gear and Zanzibarland in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. The later Metal Gear Solid games mostly avert this, with the exception of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots: Act 2 takes place in an unspecified country in 'South America', which the end credits reveals to be Peru. But at that point of the series alternate history, it seems to fir the trope perfectly. There's also Gindra in Metal Gear: Ghost Babel. Well, Ghost Babel does take place in the same place as MG1...
  • Operation Wolf was set in an unspecified location in the South American jungles.
  • Banana Republics are one of the government options in Shores of Hazeron. Players are appointed rank by El Presidente (the default ruler name), but players can also gain ranks (i.e. System administrators) by assassinating other players, which causes them to gain the killed player's ranks, while the killed player spawns without their rank.
  • Strike Commander sends you several times to the fictional country of Andes Mallorca in South America. This small republic neighbouring Peru is controlled by Generalissimo Jorge Mendez, a stereotypical Banana Republic military dictator. He is at war with every single one of his neighbours, while insisting that he only wants peace and unity in South America. This is also a unique case since the lack of superpowers in the world means that neither the United States nor the Soviet Union are there to back him. Instead, he uses mercenary groups to keep himself safe against his enemies, and particularly against anyone who would claim the massive bounty offered for his head. The game hints that he can only afford this because he's liable to kill anyone he owes money to, while masterfully framing his enemies for the same deed.
  • Caruba (portmanteau of Cuba and Aruba?) in Time Crisis: Project Titan, and the Zagorias Federation in Time Crisis 3.
  • Culuruma in Trauma Center: New Blood is a textbook example. It's the only known supplier of the fictional metal culurium, which is used in medical technology, and is key to the biology of the Synthetic Plague Stigma. Its president is actually significantly less of a dictator than standard, but it hits all the notes of "rampant poverty", "Ambiguously Brown population", and "armed rebellion".
  • The Tropico series is basically one big Troperiffic Banana Republic simulation, where you play the recently-installed dictator of a small country in the Caribbean. You can run it as anything from benevolent to hideously oppressive. The United Fruit Company is given extended Shout-Out. The first game has you creating a customized El Presidente of your own. Your choices determine things like your allegiances with the two superpowers (the game is set during the Cold War). For example, your character may be a Harvard grad, which endears you to the US; or, you can graduate from the University of Moscow with the opposite results; later games also allow you to choose from a bunch of IRL rulers with predefined traits, such as Papa Doc Duvalier, Fidel Castro or Rafael Noriega.

    Web Originals 
  • Game Theory interprets Donkey Kong Country this way, as explained here.
  • When Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs infamously mentioned meeting the officials from "San Escobar" note  the Polish-speaking internet was filled with "facts" about República Popular Democrática de San Escobar, a little known but prosperous country in Latin America. It's usually depicted as bordering with other fictional lands like Legoland and Westeros and most of the names of locations within the country and its famous citizens are based on puns. The country has its own Facebook and Twitter pages, one Polish beerhouse named itself "Embassy of San EscoBAR'', and for a while you could even purchase San Escobar grown coffee.

    Western Animation 
  • Roger Ramjet includes among its many parodies the Latin American banana republic of San Domino; thanks to the efforts of the eponymous hero, however, it remains junta-free and is still ruled by the President and his Cabinet (which is rectangular and made of wood).
  • From DuckTales (1987): "I want you to catch the first plane to the Banana Republic."
  • An episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog shows that in the future, the area that was once Kansas will be ruled by a literal Banana Republic (yes there are sentient bananas).
  • Roger takes over an island from the CIA in American Dad!. He renames the country "Bananarama", forces everyone to dance, and turns it into a resort where the only mode of transportation is floating in innertubes. The locals finally rebel after he decrees that everything be painted yellow, then changes his mind and has them do it over again in turquoise. As one of the revolutionaries mentions, "I have painted my children for the last time."
  • The Mask animated series had the "Plantation Republic" in one episode. It seemed to be based on a blend of Nicaragua and Honduras (guerillas, outdated prop plane fighters), but set on a relatively featureless forested island. Their welcome sign had the phrase "Now Go Away" at the end.
  • Hurricanes has a Banana Republic ruled by a soccer-obsessed General who once kept the Hurricanes captive.
  • Bananaman once had to go to a Banana Republic to stop a villain from cutting off the world's banana supply in "The Last Banana".
  • The Venture Bros.: In the episode "Venture Libre", the characters go to one of these named Puerto Bahía. Its president is supported by the USA, and the country itself seems to be mostly jungles, coffee plantations and sweatshops. It is also home to La Résistance consisting of freaks of super-science.
  • During the Vice season arc of Archer, the cartel pays a visit to San Marcos, and among other shenanigans, Cyril, of all people, ends up deposing the old dictator ("El Presidente" Gustavo Calderon) and takes over, though it doesn't last.
  • The Tick had to go to one of these with Arthur and American Maid on a covert mission to retrieve a super intelligent monkey before he could give rocket technology to the island's dictator; Pineapple Pokopo. The country had two resources to its name, pineapples... and sharks. Interestingly enough Pokopo was actively trying to turn the country into a vacation hotspot for tourists too.
  • The Simpsons: In the episode "Bart vs. Australia", Bart is calling random countries in the Southern Hemisphere to ask which direction the water drains in their sinks and toilets. He reaches the office of a dictator in an unknown Latin American country, and asks about the water draining question through an interpreter. The interpreter misunderstands the question, thinking that Bart just told him "the tide is turning", and the dictator panics that the revolutionaries will overthrow him and throws himself out the window.
    Bart: I can't get a straight answer out of this crazy hemisphere!

    Real Life 
  • The ur-example is probably Guatemala, given their history with the United Fruit Company. The UFC was the largest employer, and at various points ran the national postal service and telegraph service. In the 1950's, the democratically-elected government of Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán was toppled in a CIA-backed coup, ostensibly because it was threatening to align with the Soviets. However, the close ties between the Eisenhower administration and UFC (Allen Dulles, director of the CIA and brother of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, sat on the company board of directors, many other ties also existed) raised a lot of questions. Especially as the Árbenz administration was pushing for agrarian reform, which would have negatively impacted United Fruit.
  • Colombia during the 20th century. United Fruit had a lot of power in the government, which allowed it to exploit the workers without any consequences. This incited a number of protests that led to the "Masacre de las Bananeras,"note  in 1928 in which the Colombian army shot the protesters by the order of the government under the influence of both United Fruit and the US government, who threatened to invade if the Colombian government didn't protect the company's interest. The advertising slogan The man from Del Monte, he say "Yes!" is regarded as too near to reality in many Central and South American countries. you wonder why...
  • The Democratic Republic of Molossia has been described by its "president" as a banana republic. It's actually just two plots of land owned by Nevada resident Kevin Baugh. That didn't stop it from getting invaded by Channel Awesome.
  • Most of Latin America from 1900 to 1979 which includes the Dominican Republic under Trujillo and Chile during Pinochet's dictatorship. Also Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua (1937-1979), Brazil (1964-1985), Paraguay (1954-1989), and so on, especially during (and due to) the Cold War. But there were many more.
  • Cuba was a sugarcane republic as until Castro showed up. note 
  • The Philippines could count as a downplayed version of this—downplayed in the sense that at least its leaders were mostly "democratically" elected, even the dictator Ferdinand Marcos (Sr.), who was not a military officer but a civilian lawyer and politician.note  For most of its history, however, the Philippine economy has been tied to the American market, and to this day, the US is still one of the country's largest trading partners. Also, as with Cuba above, the Philippines counts more as a sugarcane republic—its sugarcane plantations were grown by and large to be sold for export. Bananas are also grown, though, and the country was third in the world in banana production by 2017. Nowadays, however, the country's prime export is people (i.e., labor). Which technically makes it a ''People's Republic''.

    In fact, it was a full-blown People's Republic of Tyranny during The '70s, in the heyday of the less democratic, more openly dictatorial martial law era. Fridge Logic ensues even more when you recall that Marcos, in power then, actually encouraged the first overseas Filipino workers to go abroad, thus making him the originator of the country's "labor export policy" … so yes, the Philippines in this case counts as a "People's Republic", in both senses of the word! One reason for the "Banana Republic" comparison is that most Philippine presidents and governments have been beholden to American policy since before "independence" (when the country was in fact a directly-ruled US colony). Even textbook history will tell you that the CIA affected the successful election of Ramon Magsaysay as Presidentnote , that the country's first "independence-era" president Manuel Roxas Sr. was as much, and as unabashedly, an American collaborator as a Japanese one (what with his incestuous friendship with "Liberator" Douglas MacArthur), and the US government in general served as an influential advisor to Marcos during the martial law years.

    Plus, having endured 300 years of Spanish colonial rule (and Catholic proselytization) before the Americans ever showed up, the Philippines also has the dubious distinction of feeling like a Latin American republic misplaced in Asia, which inevitably invites comparisons to the actual Latin America.
  • The term comes from the American occupations of Nicaragua, Cuba, Panama, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic from the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898 to 1934, referred to collectively as "The Banana Wars". The state of constant war only lasted for 36 years. Then-new president Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered a withdrawal of the last American occupation troops in 1934, introducing instead a Good Neighbor policy towards Latin America.
  • The Pacific Islands nation of Fiji, since the first of several coups d'état in 1987.
  • There is a Russian joke: What is the difference between a banana republic and a petroleum superstate? The answer: Bananas are a renewable resource.

    Which pretty well describes how Iran prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution was little different from a banana republic...or perhaps "banana monarchy" in its case. The left-leaning elected leader Mohammed Mossadegh was overthrown by the CIA and MI6 in 1953 out of fears that he would go Communist, and because he was nationalizing the Iranian assets of what would later become British Petroleum, and the previous absolute monarchy was then restored under the compliantly pro-Western and anti-communist Shah Reza Pahlavi. Ironically, the Shah fancied being a revolutionary himself, and launched a campaign of sweeping reforms and dramatic changes that had the side effect of infuriating and radicalizing the clergy, who overthrew him in the 1979 revolution.
  • Many princely states of British India had characteristics of banana republics, including being puppet states of a MegaCorp (British East Indies Company) early on.
  • While being certainly a richer and more independent country, it is not rare in Italian journalism and political discussion to see the state mocked as a "banana republic", namely "repubblica delle banane". The meaning is that politicians are incompetent and corrupt, breaking promises and bypassing laws for their own interest, if not making hypocrital compromises that don't solve issues but allow them to keep power and money.
    • Even the current prime minister Giorgia Meloni (who is the leader of a right-to-far-right party) once used the term in an official discourse: she was accused of breaking the electoral promise of stopping what she previously dubbed as illegal immigrants, either for alleged pressures by the European Union or do-ut-des convenience. Thus, she made a public statement that "we are not a banana republic" and that she would act to enforce legality (here, in Italian).
    • On a more humorous note, the Italian enterpreneur and industrialist Gianni Agnelli once remarked that Italy is not really a banana republic because "in Italy there are not bananas, but a lot of Indian figs" (here, again in Italian). This was said after the resign, on 6th January 2002, of the foreign affairs minister Renato Ruggiero, under the center-right wing government of Silvio Berlusconi, because he was pro-European Union and clashed with the anti-European Union stances of the North League party (which was part of Berlusconi's coalition).


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Republica Del Platano


El Honduragua

Ed fills Reagan in on the situation with the upcoming election in a Central American country that's of great interest to the US government.

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Example of:

Main / BananaRepublic

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