"small Central American state with an economy dependent on banana production," 1901, American English.
A term describing any of several small nations in Latin America that have economies based on a few agricultural crops.
Note: The term banana republic is often used in a disparaging sense; it suggests an unstable government.
A small country, esp Central American, dominated by foreign companies
[1930s+; fr the fact that such places were typically under the control of the United Fruit Company and grew bananas]