To the question in Eric Friedheim's column Nov. 15 of how many countries there are, he answered, "About 300 islands and territories claim to be nations, but the United Nations lists 159 members and six others with observer status." The "World Almanac and Book of Facts" gives the best information. It lists the 159 members of the U.N., but the membership includes Byelorussia and Ukraine, which are part of the U.S.S.R. although they vote in the U.N., making 157 separate countries in the U.N.
The information I use in the "World Almanac" comes under the heading "World Flags and Maps." This list gives 180 countries, including the 157 in the U.N. plus Andorra, Bermuda, North Korea, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Vatican City and others. The list seems a practical answer to the question.
EUGENE B. WILSTECH
Murrieta Hot Springs