Fiji Water says its operations make up about 20 percent of exports and 3 percent of GDP, which stands at $3,900 per capita.
Getting to the Fiji Water factory requires a bone-jarring four-hour trek into the volcanic foothills of the Yaqara Valley.
Fiji Water’s chief marketing whiz and co-owner (with her husband, Stewart) is Lynda Resnick, a well-known liberal donor who casually name-drops her friends Arianna Huffington and Laurie David.
(“Of course I know everyone in the world,” Resnick told the UK’s in 2005, “every mogul, every movie star.”) Manhattan’s trendy Carlyle hotel pours only Fiji Water in its dog bowls, and this year’s SXSW music festival featured a Fiji Water Detox Spa.
Until that day, I hadn’t fully appreciated the paranoia of Fiji’s military regime.
The junta had been declared unconstitutional the previous week by the country’s second highest court; in response it had abolished the judiciary, banned unauthorized public gatherings, delayed elections until 2014, and clamped down on the media.
(Only the “journalism of hope” is now permitted.) The prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, promised to root out corruption and bring democracy to a country that has seen four coups in the past 25 years; the government said it will start working on a new constitution in 2012.
The slogan on Fiji Water’s website—”And remember this—we saved you a trip to Fiji”—suddenly felt like a dark joke. When I called the courthouse, not a single official would give me his name.
ON THE MAP, Fiji looks as if someone dropped a fistful of confetti on the ocean.
The country is made up of more than 300 islands (100 inhabited) that have provided the setting for everything from .