geographical distribution of bananas is very concentrated
in Central and South America and the banana trade is controlled by a few
large multi-national corporations. Check out the
Chiquita web site,
click on Discover. In the 2004 USA Presidential election, Chiquita
Brands contributed $175, 402 -- 98 percent of which went to the
The countries that depend heavily
on bananas for all or most of their exports and for their national income are nicknamed
Republics"-- a term for Third World political instability, corruption, and violence
used by local elites on behalf of foreign multinationals which
dominate the national economy. In general, Third World countries have to produce more and more
exports as they receive fewer and fewer manufactured imports from the industrial countries. Banana producers who actually
grow the bananas receive the least amount from the international banana
trade. Ecuador is heavily depend on
banana exports, and children are very important in the harvest.
Source: Diercke Weltatlas. Braunschweig: Westermann, 1989, p. 203.
Honduras, Costa Rica, and Ecuador; other major banana exporters are Panama and Colombia. Ecuador's annual income from bananas is $329 million; the clothing chains, Banana Republic and Gap, have annual revenues of $6 billion! Notice that Nicaragua has never been a "Banana Republic."
Optional reading: Cynthia Enloe, Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist sense of International Politics. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990, especially Chapter 6, Carmen Miranda on My Mind: International Politics of the Banana.
Created by Ingolf Vogeler on 1 February 1996; last revised on 07 March 2005.