Due to the variety of its ecosystems, which include mountains, woods, plains, largely uninhabited territories, streams, rocky coasts and long sandy beaches, the island has been defined metaphorically as a micro-continent. In the modern era, many travelers and writers have exalted its beauty, remained untouched until the contemporary age and immersed in a landscape that houses the vestiges of the Nuragic civilization.
The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *s(a)rd-, later romanised as sardus (feminine sarda). It makes its first appearance on the Nora Stone, where the word Šrdn testifies to the name's existence when the Phoenician merchants first arrived. According to Timaeus, one of Plato's dialogues, Sardinia (referred to by most ancient Greek authors as "Sardò", Σαρδὼ) and its people as well might have been named after a legendary woman going by Sardò (Ancient Greek: Σαρδὼ), born in Sardis (Σάρδεις), capital of the ancient Kingdom of Lydia. There has also been speculation that identifies the ancient Nuragic Sards with the Sherden, one of the Sea Peoples. It is suggested that the name had a religious connotation from its use also as the adjective for the ancient Sardinian mythological hero-god Sardus Pater ("Sardinian Father" or "Father of the Sardinians"), as well as being the stem of the adjective "sardonic". In Classical antiquity, Sardinia was called a number of names besides Sardò (Σαρδὼ) or Sardinia, like Ichnusa (the Latinised form of Ancient Greek: Ἰχνοῦσα),Sandaliotis (Ancient Greek: Σανδαλιῶτις) and Argirofleps (Ancient Greek: Αργυρόϕλεψ).