The near-EF electronic structure and Fermi surface of Bi2212 has been mapped out with ARPES. A key feature of our measured bandstructure is the existence of an extended region of flat CuO2-derived bands at EF. Comparative analysis of this data with that from NdCeCuO and YBCO7 suggests that many of the anomalous (normal) physical properties of Bi2212 and YBCO7 (NdCeCuO) may be related to the existence (absence) of such bands at EF. Superconducting gap anisotropy at least an order of magnitude larger than that of the conventional superconductors has been observed in the a-b plane of Bi2212 in ARPES. For samples with Tc of 88K, the gap size reaches a maximum of approximately 20 meV along the Cu-O bond direction, and a minimum of much smaller or vanishing magnitude 45° away. The experimental data is discussed within the context of various theoretical models. In particular, a detailed comparison with what is expected from a superconductor with a dx2-y2 order parameter is carried out, yielding a consistent picture.