Vieques was taken over by the Danish company Dansk Vestindiske Kompagni (DVIK) for Danish West Indies in 1682 under the name of Crab Island. From 1689 to 1693 the island was under Brandenburg annexation, represented locally by the Brandenburgisch-Africanisch-Americanische Company (BAAC) founded in 1692, a successor company of the Brandenburg-African Company.
Around 1800, the island was populated by Spaniards.
The United States Navy used Vieques as a maneuvering area and for bomb tests from 1941 to 2003.  In the meantime 70 per cent of the island’s surface was a military restricted area. After their withdrawal on 1 May 2003 , the military left behind a highly contaminated soil with cadmium, lead, mercury, uranium and other toxins. As a result, an increase in the number of diseases was observed among the inhabitants of the island. Studies by the Puerto Rican Health Office showed that between 1985 and 1989 the cancer rate was 26 percent higher than in Puerto Rico.
The German Navy has also regularly conducted land-target shooting exercises on the Vieques shooting track at Vieques as part of the training support provided by the US Navy.