Cultural Literacy: Banana Republics

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the term “Banana Republics.” This is a half-page worksheet with two simple sentences and two comprehension questions. The reading note that the “…term banana republic is often used in a disparaging sense” because “it suggests an unstable government.”

I’ve traveled a little bit in South America, and I never heard this term used there. In fact, the American writer O Henry coined the term to characterize the fictional nation of Anchuria, in his short story “The Admiral.” Given the United States government’s tendency to meddle in the affairs of the sovereign nations of Latin America, the epithet “Banana Republics” is a bitter irony indeed. If these nations suffered from unstable governments, in many cases it is the United States–and the United Fruit Company–that has destabilized them.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

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