Banana republic? It's been a while since I last heard that term.
Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico. They are rich in history and culture, wonderful travel destinations, and excellent options for expat living. Brazil in particular has the vote of confidence of FIFA and the IOC and between the two will have a couple of million visitors.
On the other side of the pond we have India and China, just as rich in culture and history. I'm not sure about living in India (my BIL did for a few years) but China sure is a prized expat location for many Europeans and makes for a wonderful travel itinerary.
I leave African countries out because I have no personal (or family) knowledge of them.