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The Republic of Elbonia is a fictional country supposedly in Eastern Europe from Scott Adams' comic strips Dilbert and Plop: The Hairless Elbonian. It is an extremely poor, "fourth-world" country that has recently abandoned Communism. Most of the nation is covered with waist-deep mud, which the residents use to build houses. In one strip, it is mentioned that there exists a North Elbonia, an evil, totalitarian regime that wishes to steal Dilbert's top secret military project. This could be assumed to be a reference to North Koreamarker.

Inspiration

Elbonia is used by Adams whenever a "foreign" element is needed in Dilbert, in order not to mention a real country and offend people overseas who may be from that country. Adams has said that many people think of the mud as snow, a limitation of the black-and-white daily strips, but that either way is fine with him. He has commented that Elbonia essentially is based on most Americans' stereotypes of a developing country with immense problems. Or, as Adams put it, "any country without Cable TV".

Elbonia bears some resemblance to one of the venues in Al Capp's long-running strip Li'l Abner: a nation called Lower Slobbovia (based on Siberia), whose citizens are perpetually seen in waist-deep snow and ice.

Many readers have assumed Elbonia to be a play on Albaniamarker, and the apparent Eastern European setting and Communist history provide some basis for this claim. An episode of the TV series featured "ethnic Elbonians" fleeing political persecution, a possible reference to the Kosovo War.

However, Elbonia also contains a homophone of "elbow", a fact referenced in another fictitious neighbouring nation called "Kneebonia", with which Elbonia sometimes wants to wage a war.

Adams does not always avoid mentioning other countries. For instance, in his strip for March 8, 2009, the strip mentions Indians who speak perfect English as the "higher-priced" outsourcing option, resulting in one angry Elbonian who doesn't even know he has the customer support job, being the least-priced option.

Government

Elbonia's government is a dictatorship, run by a military strongman. Dogbert briefly deposed the President and made himself dictator; he then began a campaign to increase Elbonian tourism by making gambling and prostitution not only legal, but mandatory, thus turning it into something like Las Vegas. He and Dilbert (who acted as his advisor) wound up fleeing the palace when they mistook the Elbonians' coming to them bearing farm tools as an uprising — it turned out they were calling him to preside over a farm holiday. This was the protracted series of strips during which the "jowly" boss was replaced by the Pointy-Haired Boss. A similar storyline appeared in the TV Series episode "Elbonian Trip".

Some strips reference a "North Elbonia", which is still Communist. It appears to be based loosely on North Koreamarker. North Elbonia was destroyed when they used a giant laser manufactured by Dilbert's employer; the manual had been made by Tina out of anger related to how women in North Elbonia are mistreated (at least according to Dilbert).

The national bird of Elbonia is the Frisbee.

Residents

Virtually all of the Elbonians have beards, even the females and infants, and wear tall grey hats and black mittens. (Plop centers on a hairless, beardless child, a rarity in Elbonia.) Elbonians are commonly portrayed as idiotic and backward, which can make some strips look xenophobic: foreigners are not only different, which would be expected, they are always less evolved somehow.

There is extreme prejudice against left-handed Elbonians, to the point where the factions squared off in a civil war (see below). The TV series shows that left-handed Elbonains are forced to work in the country's sweatshops, overseen by right-handed bosses.

Elbonian pigs have intelligence and social standing comparable to the humans and are sometimes shown as having a role in the government. In an early Dilbert strip, Wally orders a mail-order bride from Elbonia, only to receive a pig dressed in women's clothing, later cooking it to make a BLT sandwich.

There are "mud weasels" living in the mud that can bite people.

Economy

Much of the Elbonian economy is mud-based. In one cartoon the Elbonians discover that the mud is caused by an abundance of oil and coal near the surface. Another strip claimed that the Elbonians became rich by selling the mud as a couch cosmetic on the Home Shopping Network. According to Dogbert, "They sold their country in little jars. Most of the Elbonians perished in the fiery core of the earth".

The Elbonians refuse to do any business which is not corrupt (sweatshops are common there), and in order to attract tourists Elbonia openly lies in its promotional videos, claiming to host five of the seven wonders of the world (though actually showing four).

Dilbert's company often uses Elbonia as a source of cheap labor and general outsourcing - the Pointy-Haired Boss approves of outsourcing programming or documentation tasks to them on a regular basis. However, these cost-savings attempts regularly backfire. For example, the computer code developed in Elbonia was only documented in Elbonian, and the debugging costs alone were more than what it would have cost to develop the entire program in-house. In the TV series, Dilbert's company had the Gruntmaster 6000 manufactured in an Elbonian plant named "Elboco inc.".

When Dilbert's company won the bid to build a cell phone network for the Elbonians, the Elbonian government would not sign the contract until they were given plans for a nuclear weapon. Dilbert instead gave them plans for a giant toaster, and they were foiled by a lack of highly enriched bread.

Another instance is when Dilbert's company contracted Elbonia to launch their satellite. This has been mentioned twice in the comic, and the Elbonians have tried to accomplish it in two different ways. The first involved a giant slinghot, which failed, presumably resulting in the destruction of the satellite, as one Elbonian commented "I hope those things aren't expensive.". Another way that was tried, was to anger a pig and hope it would kick the satellite into orbit. One of the problems listed was if the pig preferred fisticuffs over kicking. Unfortunately, the Elbonians had to abort when the pig brought out a sledge hammer.

Once Dogbert enslaved several Elbonians to make running shoes, as he "just got a huge order" for them. When one tried to get Dilbert to help, Dilbert pepper-sprayed him saying "I like helping people, but I also like inexpensive shoes."

In Plop, the "Church of Elbonia" is mentioned as the main religion in Elbonia (possibly a reference to Anglicanism) which deliberately mixes the faith's religious and financial aspects, telling people they will suffer at a certain level for eternity depending on how much money they donate to the COE.

Elbonia is depicted as a technologically outdated country: "Telephones" are actually cans attached to the ends of strings and the means of "air transportation" (Elbonia Airlines) is flinging people from a giant slingshot (something Dilbert hates to do because he loses his luggage and gets head-deep into mud). In the TV series, "Elbonia Airlines" uses planes assembled from what looks like scrap metal and clapboard, and there are no runways, so the plane just lands in the mud. In a recent strip, where Wally goes there, they use planes, but the passengers just jump out of the plane, trying to "land on a plump Elbonian to cushion their fall."

In recent strips, Elbonian inflation has reached 1,000,000,000% daily, much like the present situation in Zimbabwe.

War

For many years Elbonia has been mired, as it were, in a civil war between the left- and right-handed Elbonians, although the war was mostly (possibly entirely) bloodless, as the Elbonians did not realize they were allowed to use weapons. The rebels were led by "The Fox", who Dilbert accidentally killed when he was launched to the rebel camp by Elbonia Airlines and landed on The Fox. Elbonia has also threatened its neighbor, Kneebonia, with nuclear weapons launched by slingshot.

Elbonia was also briefly engaged in a war with Francemarker, that erupted when Dilbert's company gave them the bid of launching a French spy satellite, which resulted in the disastrous slingshot launch of the satellite into the French Embassy in Elbonia. After a brief bombing campaign, France ended the war after realizing that there was nothing of value to bomb and the Elbonian GNP tripled when the citizens sold the bomb shrapnel as scrap metal. (A parody of Laosmarker, where a huge number of citizens actually do this for a living. Except with plentiful unexploded munitions mixed in) This temporary rise in wealth caused the Elbonians to try to instigate another war with France by standing in front of the newly rebuilt French Embassy and insulting French wine and traditional cuisine, which ultimately failed.

More recently, Wally was sent to teach the Elbonians how to operate a software program, only to lead to the rise of an Elbonian insurgency against his "arrogant" ways. One of the Elbonians explains "It's something we do." The country was again plunged into civil war, after which Wally left the country, refusing to admit to what happened due to his arrival.

In the TV series, Elbonian strongman Petrunyik Vostominitz used the "tomeato" (a food product made by Dilbert to end world hunger) as an explosive weapon to extort neighboring countries "just for kicks". Also in the TV series, Elbonian guards, police officers, and soldiers are armed with small arms that look like Heckler & Koch MP5s.

Notes

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