The name comes from Cicero, who described it as a land of Barbarians because Sardinians did not shave like the Romans did. The territory was also known as latrones mastrucati, "thieves with a rough garment in wool".
The area is usually divided into three Barbagias: the Barbagia di Ollolai, the Barbagia di Se¨lo and the Barbagia di Mandrolisai. The latter is named after a sub-region, and the others after their main villages.
The area is rich in hard hills, and there is little human presence. Barbagia is one of the least populated areas in Europe. These facts have allowed Barbagia to preserve its cultural and natural treasures. The language spoken is Sardo logudorese.
One of the most important towns is Gavoi, while Orgosolo is sadly famous for bandits and kidnappers. Oliena has a reputation for its wines (especially the Nepente, a kind of Cannonau).