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.
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
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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If you read much popular science, you'd be forgiven for thinking that biology has become something of a banana republic.