These conditions stand in marked contrast to the current climate of northern Africa.
Today, the Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world.
N.-brokered ceasefire in 1991, but the two sides have been deadlocked since that agreement. The Moroccan government said Ban used the word "occupation" to describe Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara in 1975 Polisario, backed by Morocco's regional rival and neighbour Algeria and a number of other African states, wants a referendum promised in the ceasefire agreement on the region's fate.
Morocco says it will not offer more than autonomy for the region, rich in phosphates and possibly offshore oil and gas.
But my recent paper presents evidence that areas where the Sahara dried out quickly happen to be the same areas where domesticated animals first appeared.
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State news agency MAP said three million people attended the march, though those figures could not be confirmed.
Some protesters said they were bussed for free to the march and said trains had also been free for the day of the rally.