[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The anisotropy of the azimuthal distributions of charged particles produced in PbPb collisions with a nucleon-nucleon center-of-mass energy of 2.76 TeV is studied with the CMS experiment at the LHC. The elliptic anisotropy parameter defined as the second coefficient in a Fourier expansion of the particle invariant yields, is extracted using the event-plane method, two- and four-particle cumulants, and Lee--Yang zeros. The anisotropy is presented as a function of transverse momentum (pt), pseudorapidity (eta) over a broad kinematic range: 0.3 < pt < 20 GeV, abs(eta) < 2.4, and in 12 classes of collision centrality from 0 to 80%. The results are compared to those obtained at lower center-of-mass energies, and various scaling behaviors are examined. When scaled by the geometric eccentricity of the collision zone, the elliptic anisotropy is found to obey a universal scaling with the transverse particle density for different collision systems and center-of-mass energies.