Whenever Dilbert creator Scott Adams wants to poke fun at a foreign nation (i.e. someplace that is not the United States of America) he chooses the fictional third world nation of Elbonia as his target. The land of Elbonia is located somewhere in the middle east and is covered in waist-deep mud. This mud is the country's sole export, and even then the citizens manufacture more mud out of bottled water and potting soil. All Elbonians dress in traditional fur coats and Russian hats, and each Elbonian maintains a long beard (even the women). Why is Elbonia depicted this way? Adams reasons that Americans believe that all other nations are populated by bearded, fur-wearing people who wade around in waist-deep mud all day long.

In the Dilbert comic strip Dilbert and his coworkers often visit Elbonia to discuss various outsourcing and manufacturing contracts that the Pointy Haired Boss has negotiated with the citizens (despite the fact that Elbonia has no technology industry). On rare occasions Elbonians even visit Dilbert's office and even interact with other lands, such as the time when the Elbonian Space Command tried to launch a French communications satellite into orbit via catapult. During the two season run of the Dilbert animated series Elbonia was chosen to be the manufacturing hub of the Gruntmaster 6000 project. The animated Elbonia featured a few changes from the comic strip rendition: the citizens now had factories, a social caste system based on right-handed people versus left-handed people existed, and Elbonian Airlines was depicted as a ratty jet rather than the traditional catapult or cannon from the comics. Furthermore, in the animated series Dogbert took a position as ambassador to Elbonia, a job he never held in the comic strip, and Alice briefly sought to adopt and aid a little bearded Elbonian baby through the "Shave the Children" organization. Later animated Dilbert developments included Dilbert's ill-advised famine solution (a meat/tomato item called the tomeato) overtaking the country.

In 2001 Scott Adams had plans for a Dilbert spin-off comic strip starring Plop, the only hairless Elbonian, and his pet pig. After the events of September 11, 2001 Adams and his editors realized that a comic strip about a middle eastern boy and his Taliban-resembling society would probably not be successful in the current political and social climate, and the strip was abandoned. Elbonia continues to appear in Dilbert comics, however, so the entire concept of the muddy country and its backwards people has not been totally abandoned.

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