Political processes acting through the ages resulted in many societies in Africa; Africa was perhaps more fragmented than any other area at the time of European colonial incursions dating variously from the 16th century in West Africa and the 19th century in East Africa. The evolution of African peoples into organized societies from the Neolithic period (7000 BC) to the 16th century took various paths in response to economic endeavors, environmental settings, social and political processes and interactions with people from external areas.