In 1633, during its war against Spain (which then controlled Portugal), the Netherlands seized control of Arguin. It remained under Dutch rule until 1678, with a brief interruption by English rule in 1665. France took over the island in September 1678, but it was then abandoned until 1685. Arguin's aridity and its lack of a good anchorage made long-term European settlement difficult.
Arguin was a colony of Brandenburg-Prussia from 1685 to 1721. France then took control of the island, only to lose it again the following year to the Netherlands, regaining it in 1724. This period of French rule lasted four years; in 1728, it reverted to the control of indigenous peoples. The island was included in the territory of the French colony of Mauritania, and it remained under Mauritanian rule when that country became independent in 1960.