"Never mess with goblins, Harry."
-- Rubeus Hagrid (PS5)
Goblins are a race of highly intelligent creatures who live side by side with wizards. Goblins are considered to be inferior by many wizards, who foolishly believe that the goblins are comfortable with that arrangement. In fact, goblins are extremely clever and more than able to stand up to wizards.
The fact that the wizarding population treats them poorly is evidence of the severe injustice built into wizard culture. Ironically, the Fountain of Magical Brethren in the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic shows a goblin, along with a house-elf and a centaur, gazing admiringly at a witch and wizard.
Goblins are short and dark-skinned. Throughout the history of the wizarding world there have been rebellions where the goblins have fought against the discrimination and prejudice. Some goblins speak a language called Gobbledegook. They are still subservient in the minds of most wizards, but they have established themselves as a vital part of wizarding society. Being in charge of the Gringotts, they control the wizarding economy to a large extent. Apart from their cleverness with money and finances, goblins are also very capable metalsmiths.
The goblins suffered their share of losses during the first rise of Voldemort to power in the 1970s. A family living near Nottingham had been murdered by Voldemort’s followers at that time, and Bill Weasley was approaching the goblins now, appealing to their sense of belonging to the wizarding community. This is proving problematic, however, because a Ministry official, Ludo Bagman, swindled a group of goblins out of a large amount of gold at the Quidditch World Cup in the summer of 1995, and as a result of deep-seated resentment because the Goblins are forbidden by the Ministry from using wands.
They have very long fingers and feet, and some have pointed beards (PS5). Griphook, one of the hundreds of goblins working at Gringotts (PS5), has a bald head, pointed nose, and pointed ears (HPM). Some have dark, slanted eyes (GF24). Some goblins wear pointed hats (OP7).
Goblin rebellions were most prevalent in the 1600s (PA5) and 1700s (GF15, OP31), but even today there are subversive goblin groups who work in secret against the Ministry, according to the Daily Prophet (OP15). One rebellion, in 1612, took place in the vicinity of Hogsmeade; the Inn there was used as headquarters for the rebellion (PA5). The rebellions have been described as "bloody and vicious." The names of the rebels tend to run along the lines of "Bodrod the Bearded and Urg the Unclean," according to Ron (GF31).
Goblins are extremely clever and over the years have dealt with wizard-kind effectively (GF24). The goblins run Gringotts, the wizarding bank (PS5).There are rumors, almost certainly unfounded, that Cornelius Fudge was plotting ways to wrest control of the money supply and the economy from the goblins while in office (OP10). Their silverwork is well known and prized. Sirius Black's wealthy family had dishes which were 'finest fifteenth-century goblin-wrought silver, embossed with the Black family crest' (OP6). When Hagrid visited the giants, one of the presents he brought was a goblin-wrought helmet which was described as "indestructible" (OP21). Goblins actually mint the Galleons, Sickles, and Knuts used in the wizarding world; each coin is stamped with a serial number identifying the goblin who cast it (OP19).